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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Romans 1



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Verse 1

1. δοῦλος ἰ. χ.] so also Philippians 1:1, and Titus 1:1 ( δοῦλος θεοῦ, ἀπόστ. δὲ χ. .),—but usually ἀπ. χ. . (2 Cor. Eph. Colossians 1 2 Tim.): [ κλητὸς] ἀπ. χ. . (1 Cor.),—simply ἀπόστολος (Gal.),— δέσμιος χ. . (Philem.), but in almost all these places the reading varies between χριστοῦ ἰησοῦ and ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. The expression answers to the Hebr. עֶבֶד יְהוֹה, the especial O. T. title of Israel, and of individuals, as Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Job, and others, who as prophets, kings, &c., were raised up for the express work of God. See Umbreit’s note, Der Brief an die Römer auf dem Grunde des alten Testaments ausgelegt, p. 153 f. It must not be rendered slave with Schrader, nor pius cultor with Fritzsche: because, as Mehring remarks, the former excludes the element of freewill, while the latter does not express the entire dedication to Christ.

κλητὸς ἀπόστ.] In naming himself a servant of Jesus Christ, he bespeaks their attention as a Christian speaking to Christians: he now further specifies the place which he held by the special calling of God: called, and that to the very highest office, of an apostle; and even more—among the Apostles, not one by original selection, but one specially called. “Ceteri quidem apostoli per diutinam cum Jesu consuetudinem educati fuerunt, et primo ad sequelam et disciplinam vocati, deinde ad apostolatum producti. Paulus, persecutor antehac, de subito apostolus per vocationem factus est. Ita Judæi erant sancti ex promissione: Græci, sancti ex mera vocatione, Romans 1:6. Præcipuam ergo vocatus apostolus cum vocatis sanctis similitudinem et conjunctionem habebat.” Bengel.

ἀπόστολος must not be taken here in the wider sense, of a missionary, as in ch. Romans 16:7, but in its higher and peculiar meaning, in which the Twelve bore the title ( οὓς καὶ ἀποστόλους ὠνόμασεν, Luke 6:13), and Paul (and perhaps Barnabas), and James the Lord’s brother. This title was not conferred on Paul by the ἀφορίσατε δή μοι of the Holy Spirit, Acts 13:2, but in virtue of his special call by the Lord in person; compare σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, Acts 9:15, with ἐξελεξάμην, John 6:70; John 13:18; John 15:16; Acts 1:2. “Neque enim iis assentior, qui eam de qua loquitur vocationem ad æternam Dei electionem referant.” Calvin.

ἀφωρισμένος] not in Acts 13:2, merely, though that was a particular application of the general truth:—but (as in Galatians 1:15, ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου) from his birth. “Idem Pharisæi etymon fuerat: hoc autem loco Paulus se non solum ex hominibus, ex Judæis, ex discipulis, sed etiam ex doctoribus segregatum a Deo significat.” Bengel.

εἰς] for the purpose of announcing.

εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ = τὸ εὐαγ. τοῦ θ., which (see reff.) is the usual form. Bp. Middleton (on Romans 1:17) remarks on the anarthrousness of Paul’s style, and cites from Dion. Hal. de Comp. Verb. c. 22, as a character of the αὐστηρὰ ἁρμονία, that it is ὀλιγοσύνδεσμος, ἄναρθρος. See the passage cited at length in the Prolegomena, § Romans 1:2,—the good tidings sent by (not concerning) God. The genitive is not, as in τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας, Matthew 4:23, one of apposition, but of possession or origin; God’s Gospel. And so, whenever the expression ‘the Gospel of Christ’ occurs, it is not ‘the Gospel about Christ,’ but Christ’s Gospel; that Gospel which flows out of His grace, and is His gift to men. Thus in the very beginning of the Epistle, these two short words announce that the Gospel is of God,—in other words, that salvation is of grace only.

Verses 1-7

προσ ρω΄αιουσ

1–7.] ADDRESS OF THE EPISTLE, WITH AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF PAUL’S CALLING, TO BE AN APOSTLE OF THE GOSPEL OF THE SON OF GOD. “Epistola tota sic methodica est, ut ipsum quoque exordium ad rationem artis compositum sit. Artificium quum in multis apparet, quæ suis locis observabantur, tum in eo maxime, quod inde argumentum principale deducitur. Nam Apostolatus sui approbationem exorsus, ex ea in Evangelii commendationem incidit: quæ quum necessario secum trahat disputationem de fide, ad eam, quasi verborum contextu manu ducente, delabitur. Atque ita ingreditur principalem totius Epistolæ quæstionem, fide nos justificari: in qua tractanda versatur usque ad finem quinti capitis.” Calvin.

Paul in the addresses of his Epistles never uses the common Greek formula χαίρειν (James 1:1), but always a prayer for blessing on those to whom he is writing. In all his Epistles (as in both those of Peter, and in the Apocalypse) this prayer is for χάρις and εἰρήνη, except in 1 and 2 Tim., where it is for χάρις, ἔλεος, and εἰρήνη, as in 2 John. In Jude only we find ἔλεος, εἰρήνη, and ἀγάπη.

The address here differs from those of most of Paul’s Epistles, in having dogmatic clauses parenthetically inserted:—such are found also in the Epistle to Titus, and (in much less degree) in that to the Galatians. These dogmatic clauses regard, 1. the fore-announcement of the Gospel through the prophets: 2. the description and dignity of Him who was the subject of that Gospel: 3. the nature and aim of the apostolic office to which Paul had been called,—including the persons addressed in the objects of its ministration.

Verse 2

2.] This good tidings is no new invention, no after-thought,—but was long ago announced in what God’s prophets wrote concerning His Son:—and announced by way of promise, so that God stood pledged to its realization. ἐπειδὴ δὲ καὶ καινοτομίαν ἐνεκάλουν τῷ πράγματι, δείκνυσιν αὐτὸ πρεσβύτερον ἑλλήνων ὄν, καὶ ἐν τοῖς προφήταις προδιαγραφόμενον. Chrys. Hom. ii. p. 431.

γραφ. ἁγ.] not, ‘in sacred writings,’—nor ‘in passages of Holy Writ:’—but in the Holy Scriptures. The expression used is defined enough by the adjective, to be well understood without the article;—so πνεῦμα ἁγιως. below,— πν. ἅγιον passim. See Winer, edn. 6, § 19. 2 (and for nouns in government, Middleton, ch. iii. § 6). But one set of writings being holy, it was not necessary to designate them more particularly. See also above on εὐαγγ. θεοῦ. This expression ( εὐαγγ. ὃ προεπηγγ.) is used in the strictest sense. Moses gave the Law: the prophets proclaimed the Gospel. See Umbreit’s note, p. 159.

Verse 3

3. περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ] belongs to ὃ προεπ. above,—which he promised beforehand, &c., concerning His Son, i.e. ‘which (good tidings) He promised beforehand, &c., and indicated that it should be concerning His Son.’ This is more natural than to bind these words to εὐαγγ. θεοῦ which went before. Either meaning will suit Romans 1:9 equally well. Christ, the Son of God, is the great subject of the good news.

γενομένου] not ὄντος, see John 1:1-3, and notes [nor as in E. V. ‘was made.’ There is nothing in the word indicating creation, however true that may have been: see John 1:14].

κατὰ σάρκα] On the side of His humanity, our Lord ἐγένετο; that nature of His begins only then, when He was γενόμενος ἐκ γυναικός, Galatians 4:4.

σάρξ is here used exactly as in John 1:14, ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο, to signify that whole nature, body and soul, of which the outward visible tabernacle of the FLESH is the concrete representation to our senses.

The words ἐκ σπέρματος δαυείδ cast a hint back at the promise just spoken of. At the same time, in so solemn an enunciation of the dignity of the Son of God, they serve to shew that even according to the human side, His descent had been fixed in the line of him who was Israel’s anointed and greatest king.

Verse 4

4.] The simple antithesis would have been, τοῦ μὲν γενομένουὄντος δὲ υἱοῦ θεοῦ κατὰ πνεῦμα, see 1 Timothy 3:16. But (1) wonderful solemnity is given by dropping the particles, and taking up separately the human and divine nature of Christ, keeping ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ as the great subject of both clauses, and thus making them, not contrasts to one another, but correlative parts of the same great whole. And (2) the Apostle, dwelling here on patent facts,—the announcements of prophecy,—the history of the Lord’s Humanity,—does not deal with the essential subsistent Godhead of Christ, but with that manifestation of it which the great fact of the Resurrection had made to men. Also (3) by amplifying πνεῦμα into πν. ἁγιωσύνης, he characterizes the Spirit of Christ as one of absolute holiness, i.e. as divine and partaking of the Godhead: see below.

ὁρισθέντος] “Multo plus dicit quam ἀφωρισμένος, Romans 1:1; nam ἀφορίζεται unus e pluribus, ὁρίζεται unicus quispiam.” Bengel. See reff. Nor does it = προορισθέντος, as vulg. prœdestinatus, and as Irenæus (iii. 22. 1, p. 219) and Augustine de Prædest(1) Sanctorum, c. 15, vol. x. p. 982:—“Prædestinatus est ergo Jesus, ut qui futurus erat secundum carnem filius David, esset tamen in virtute Filius Dei secundum Spiritum Sanctificationis: quia natus est de Spiritu Sancto et Virgine Maria.” But this is one of the places where Augustine has been misled by the Latin:—the text speaks, not of the fact of Christ’s being the Son of God barely, but of the proof of that fact by His Resurrection. Chrysostom has given the right meaning: τί οὖν ἔστιν ὁρισθέντος; τοῦ δειχθέντος, ἀποφανθέντος, κριθέντος, ὁμολογηθέντος παρὰ τῆς ἁπάντων γνώμης καὶ ψήφου.… Hom. ii. p. 432. That an example is wanting of this exact use of the word, is, as Olsh. has shewn, no objection to such use; the ὁρίζειν here spoken of is not the objective ‘fixing,’ ‘appointing’ of Christ to be the Son of God, but the subjective manifestation in men’s minds that He is so. Thus the objective words ποιεῖν (Acts 2:36), γεννᾷν (Acts 13:33) are used of the same proof or manifestation of Christ’s Sonship by His Resurrection. So again ἐδικαιώθη, 1 Timothy 3:16.

ἐν δυνάμει belongs to ὁρισθέντος,—not to υἱοῦ θεοῦ,—nor again is it a parallel clause to κατ. πν. ἁγ. and ἐξ ἀναστ. νεκ. (as Chrys., who interprets it ἀπὸ τῶν θαυμάτων ἅπερ ἔπραττε, Theophyl. &c.) manifested with power (to be) the Son of God. See reff.

κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης] ἁγιως. is not = ἅγιον; this epithet would be inapplicable here, for it would point out the Third Person in the Blessed Trinity, whereas it is the Spirit of Christ Himself, in distinction from His Flesh, which is spoken of. And this Spirit is designated by the gen. of quality, ἁγιωσύνης, to shew that it is not a human, but a divine Spirit which is attributed here to Christ,—a Spirit to which holiness belongs as its essence. The other interpretations certainly miss the mark, by overlooking the κατὰ σάρκα and κατὰ πνεῦμα, the two sides of the Person of Christ here intended to be brought out. Such are that of Theodoret ( διὰ τῆς ὑπὸ τοῦ παναγίου πνεύματος ἐνεργουμένης δυνάμεως),—Chrys. ( ἀπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος, διʼ οὗ τὸν ἁγιασμὸν ἔδωκεν), &c. Calvin and Olshausen seem to wish to include the notion of sanctifying ( ἁγιασμός) in ἁγιωσύνη,—which however true, is more than strictly belongs to the words. See by all means, on the whole, Umbreit’s important note, pp. 164–172.

ἐξ] not ‘from and after’ (as Theodoret, Luther, Grotius, al.), nor = ἀπό, which could not be used here, but by, as indicating the source, out of which the demonstration proceeds.

ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν] not = ἀναστ. ἐκ νεκρῶν,—which, besides the force done to the words, would be a weakening of the strong expression of the Apostle, who takes here summarily and by anticipation the Resurrection of Jesus as being, including, involving ( ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις, John 11:25) the (whole) Resurrection of the dead. So that we must not render as E. V. ‘the resurrection from the dead,’ but the resurrection of the dead, regarded as accomplished in that of Christ. It was the full accomplishment of this, which more than any thing declared Him to be the Son of God: see John 5:25-29. Thus in these words lies wrapped up the argument of ch. Romans 6:4 ff.

ἰης. χρ. τ. κυρ. ἡμ.] Having given this description of the Person and dignity of the Son of God, very Man and very God, he now identifies this divine Person with JESUS CHRIST, the Lord and Master of Christians,—the historical object of their faith, and (see words following) the Appointer of himself to the apostolic office.

Verse 5

5. διʼ οὗ] as in Galatians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:9, designating the Lord Himself as the Agent in conferring the grace and Apostleship.

ἐλάβομεν] not’ all Christians,’—but we, the Apostle himself, as he not unfrequently speaks. No others need be here included in the word. Those to whom he is writing cannot be thus included, for they are specially contrasted with the subject of ἐλάβομεν by the following ὑμεῖς. Nor can the aor. ἐλάβομεν refer to any general bestowal of this kind, indicating, as it must, a definite past event, viz. the reception of the Apostleship by himself. To maintain (as Dr. Peile, Annotations on the Epistles, vol. i. Appendix) that the subject of ἐλὰβομεν must be the same as the ἡμῶν which has preceded, is to overlook, not only the contrast just noticed, and the habit of Paul to use indiscriminately the singular or plural, when speaking of himself,—but also the formulary character of the expression, ‘Jesus Christ our Lord,’ in which the ‘we’ alluded to in ‘our’ is too faintly indicated to become the subject of a following verb.

χάριν] Hardly, as Augustine, “gratiam cum omnibus fidelibus, apostolatum autem non cum omnibus communem habet” (Olsh.): for he is surely speaking of that peculiar χάρις, by which he wrought in his apostleship more than they all; see reff.

ἀποστολήν] Strictly, apostleship, ‘the office of an Apostle,’see reff.: not any mission, or power of sending ministers, resident in the whole church, which would be contrary to the usage of the word. The existence of such a power is not hereby denied, but this place refers solely to the office of Paul as an Apostle. Keep the χάρ. κ. ἀποστ. separate, and strictly consecutive, avoiding all nonsensical figures of Hendiadys, Hypallage, and the like. It was the general bestowal of grace, which conditioned and introduced the special bestowal ( καί, as so often, coupling a specific portion to a whole) of apostleship: cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10.

εἰς] with a view to,—‘in order to bring about.’

ὑπακοὴν πίστεως] The anarthrous character above remarked (on εὐαγγ. θεοῦ, Romans 1:1) must be here borne in mind, or we shall fall into the mistake of supposing . π. to mean ‘obedience produced by faith.’ The key to the words is found in ref. Acts, πολύς τε ὄχλος τῶν ἱερέων ὑπήκουον τῇ πίστει, compared with Paul’s own usage of joining an objective genitive with ὑπακοή, see 2 Corinthians 10:5, εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ χριστοῦ. So that πίστεως is the faith; not = ‘the gospel which is to be believed’ (as Fritzsche, citing ch. Romans 10:16), but the state of salvation, in which men stand by faith. And so these words form an introduction to the great subject of the Epistle.

ἐν πᾶσιν τ. ἔθν.] in order to bring about obedience to the faith among all (the) nations. The Jews do not here come into account. There is no inclusion, and at the same time no express exclusion of them: but Paul was commissioned as the Apostle of the Gentiles, and he here magnifies the great office entrusted to him.

ὑπὲρ τ. ὀν. αὐτ.] on behalf of His name, i.e. ‘for His glory:’ see reff. “In the name of Christ is summed up what He had done and was, what the Christian ever bore in mind, the zeal which marked him, the name wherewith he was named.” Jowett. See also Umbreit’s note. The words are best taken as belonging to the whole, from διʼ οὗ to ἔθνεσιν [as declaring the purpose for which the grace and apostleship had been received].

Verse 6

6. ἐν οἷς.…] The whole to χριστοῦ should be taken together: among whom ye also are called of Jesus Christ; otherwise, with a comma at ὑμεῖς, the assertion, ‘among whom are ye,’ is flat and unmeaning.

De Wette and Calvin would take ἰησοῦ χρ. as a gen. of possession, because the call of believers is generally referred to the FATHER: but sometimes the SON is said to call likewise, see John 5:25; 1 Timothy 1:12 :—and with ἀγαπητοὶ θεοῦ following so close upon it, the expression can I think hardly be taken otherwise than as called by Jesus Christ. ἐκλεκτοὶ αὐτοῦ, Matthew 24:31, cited by De W. is hardly parallel.

Verse 7

7.] This verse follows, in the sense, close on Romans 1:1.

ἀγ. θ., κλητ. ἁγ.] Both these clauses refer to all the Christians addressed: not (as Bengel) the first to Jewish, the second to Gentile believers. No such distinction would be in place in an exordium which anticipates the result of the Epistle—that Jew and Gentile are one in guilt, and one in Christ.

ἀπ. θ. πατ. ἡμ. κ. κυρ. . χ.] Not, as Erasmus, ‘from God, the Father of us and of our Lord Jesus Christ,’—but from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Giver of Grace and Peace,—Christ the Imparter.

Verse 8

8.] This placing himself in intimate connexion with his readers by mention of and thankfulness for their faith or Christian graces, is the constant habit of Paul. The three Epistles, Gal., 1 Tim., and Titus, are the only exceptions: Olsh. adds 2 Cor., but in ch. Romans 1:3-22 we have an equivalent: see especially Romans 1:6-7; Romans 1:11; Romans 1:14.

μέν] The corresponding δέ follows, Romans 1:13. ‘Ye indeed are prospering in the faith: but I still am anxious further to advance that fruitfulness.’ There is no ἔπειτα to follow to πρῶτον.

τῷ θεῷ μου] ὅρα μεθʼ ὅσης διαθέσεως εὐχαριστεῖ. οὐ γὰρ εἶπε, τῷ θεῷ, ἀλλὰ τῷ θεῷ μου· ὃ καὶ οἱ προφῆται ποιοῦσι, τὸ κοινὸν ἰδιοποιούμενοι. καὶ τί θαυμαστὸν εἰ οἱ προφῆται; αὐτὸς γὰρ αὐτὸ συνεχῶς ὁ θεὸς φαίνεται ποιῶν ἐπὶ τῶν δούλων, θεὸν ἀβραὰμ καὶ ἰσαὰκ καὶ ἰακὼβ ἰδιαζόντως λέγων ἑαυτόν. Chrys. Hom. iii. p. 436.

διὰ ἰ. χ.] “Velut per Pontificem magnum: oportet enim scire eum qui vult offerre sacrificium Deo, quod per manus Pontificis debet offerre.” Origen. So also Calvin, “Hic habemus exemplum, quomodo per Christum agendæ sunt gratiæ, secundum Apostoli præceptum ad Hebrews 13:15.” Olshausen says, “This is no mere phrase, but a true expression of the deepest conviction. For only by the Spirit of Christ dwelling in men’s hearts are thanksgivings and prayer acceptable to God.” But perhaps here it is better to take the words as expressing an acknowledgment that the faith of the Romans, for which thanks were given, was due to, and rested on the Lord Jesus Christ: see ch. Romans 7:25, and rendering there.

περί] This prep. and ὑπέρ both occur in this connexion, see 1 Corinthians 1:4; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:4 :—and it is impossible to say, in cases of their confusion by the MSS., which may have been substituted for the other. The internal criticism which would adopt ὑπέρ as being the less usual, may be answered by the probability that ὑπέρ, being known to be sometimes used by Paul, may have been substituted as more in his manner for the more usual περί. So that manuscript authority in such cases must be our guide; and this authority is here decisive. The difference in meaning would be, that ὑπέρ would give more the idea that thanks were given by Paul on their behalf, as if he were aiding them in giving thanks, for such great mercies: whereas περί would imply only that they were the subject of his thanks,—that he gave thanks concerning them.

ἡ πίστις ὑμ.] “In ejusmodi gratulationibus Paulus vel totum Christianismum describit, Colossians 1:3, sqq.,—vel partem aliquam, 1 Corinthians 1:5. Itaque hoc loco fidem commemorat, suo convenienter instituto, Romans 1:12; Romans 1:17.” Bengel.

καταγγέλλεται] De Wette notices the other side of the report, as given by the Jews at Rome, Acts 28:22, to Paul himself. This praise was in the Christian churches, and brought by Christian brethren.

ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ] A popular hyperbole, common every where, and especially when speaking of general diffusion through the Roman empire, the ‘orbis terrarum.’ The praise would be heard in every city where there was a Christian church,—intercourse with the metropolis of the world being common to all.

Verses 8-17

8–17.] OPENING OF THE EPISTLE. His thankfulness for the faith of the Romans: remembrance of them in his prayers: wish to visit them: hindrances hitherto, but still earnest intention of doing so, that he may further ground them in that Gospel, of which he is not ashamed, inasmuch as it is THE POWER OF GOD TO ALL WHO BELIEVE. This leads to the announcement (in a citation from the Scripture) of one great subject of the Epistle,—viz.: JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.

Verse 9

9.] “Asseveratio pia, de re necessaria, et hominibus, remotis præsertim et ignotis, occulta.” Bengel. There could be no other witness to his practice in his secret prayers, but God: and as the assertion of a habit of incessantly praying for the Roman Christians, whom he had never seen, might seem to savour of an exaggerated expression of affection, he solemnly appeals to this only possible testimony. To the Eph., Phil., (see however Philippians 1:8), Col., Thess., he gives the same assurance, but without the asseveration. The thus calling God to witness is no un-common practice with Paul: see reff. in E. V.

ᾧ λατρ.] The serving God in his spirit was a guarantee that his profession was sincere, and that the oath just taken was no mere form, but a solemn and earnest appeal of his spirit. See also Philippians 3:3 (present text), and John 4:24. “The LXX use λατρεύω generally (not so, but only in a few places, e.g. Numbers 16:9, Ezekiel 20:32; it is mostly rendered by λειτουργεῖν; λατρεύειν for the most part rendering עָבַד) for the Heb. שֵׁרֵת, which mostly implies the service of the priests in the temple: e.g. Numbers 3:31; Numbers 4:12; Numbers 18:2, &c. The Apostle means then, that he is an intelligent, true priest of his God, not in the temple, but in his spirit,—not at the altar, but at the gospel of His Son.” Umbreit.

ἐν τῷ εὐαγ.] ἡ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου προσθήκη τὸ εἶδος δηλοῖ τῆς διακονίας, Chrys. Hom. iii. p. 438. His peculiar method of λατρεία was concerned with the gospel of the Son of God. “Quidam accipiunt hanc particulam, quasi voluerit Paulus cultum illum, quo se prosequi Deum dixerat, ex eo commendare, quod Evangelii præscripto respondeat: certum est autem, spiritualem Dei cultum in Evangelio nobis præcipi. Sed prior interpretatio longe melius quadrat, nempe quod suum Deo obsequium addicat in Evangelii prædicatione.” Calvin. See εὐαγγελίον, Philippians 4:15.

[ ὡς ἀδιαλείπτως] how unceasingly: the words may also mean ‘that without ceasing,’ but the former rendering seems the better of the two.]

πάντοτε belongs to the following, not to the preceding words. This latter construction would not be without example,— ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ ἀδιαλείπτως, 1 Maccabees 12:11, but this very example shews that if so, its natural place would be close to ἀδιαλείπτως. The whole phrase is a favourite one with Paul, see reff. “ πάντοτε vice nominis accipio, ac si dictum foret, ‘In omnibus meis orationibus, seu quoties precibus Deum appello, adjungo vestri mentionem.’ ” Calvin.

αἱ προσευχαί μου must be understood of his ordinary stated prayers, just in our sense of my prayers: “quoties ex professo et quasi meditatus Deum orabat, illorum quoque habebat rationem inter alios.” Calv.

Verse 10

10. εἴ πως] if by any means. No subject of δεόμενος is expressed, but it is left to be gathered from this clause, as in Simon’s entreaty, Acts 8:24, δεήθητε ὑμεῖς ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ.… ὅπως μηδὲν ἐπέλθῃ ἐπʼ ἐμὲ ὧν εἰρήκατε, where ὅπως κ. τ. λ. is not the contents of the prayer, but the end aimed at by it.

ἤδη ποτέ] before long:—lit., ‘at last, some day or other.’

εὐοδωθήσομαι] I shall be allowed, prospered: see reff., and Deuteronomy 28:29; and cf. Umbreit’s note. The rendering, ‘I might have a prosperous journey’ (Vulg. and E.V.), is etymologically incorrect; the passive of ὁδόω, ‘to shew the way,’ ‘to bring into the way,’ must be ‘to be shewn the way,’ or ‘brought into the way.’ So Herod. vi. 73, ὡς τῷ κλεομενεϊ εὐωδώθη τὸ ἐς τὸν δημάρητον πρῆγμα.

ἐν τῷ θελ. τοῦ θεοῦ] In the course of,—by, the will of God. ἐλθεῖν belongs to εὐοδωθήσομαι, not to δεόμενος.

Verse 11

11. ἐπιποθῶ] not ‘I vehemently desire:’ ἐπί does not intensify, but merely expresses the direction of the πόθος, see Herod. v. 93, and compare such expressions as μὴ προσεῶντος ἡμᾶς τοῦ ἀνέμου, Acts 27:7.

ἵνα τὶ μεταδῶ χάρισμα πν.] That the χάρισμα here spoken of was no mere supernatural power of working in the Spirit, the whole context shews, as well as the meaning of the word itself in reff. And even if χάρισμα, barely taken, could ever (1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:9 are no examples, see there) mean technically a supernatural endowment of the Spirit, yet the epithet πνευματικόν, and the object of imparting this χάρισμα, confirmation in the faith, would here preclude that meaning. Besides, Paul did not value the mere bestowal of these ‘gifts’ so highly, as to make it the subject of his earnest prayers incessantly. The gift alluded to was παράκλησις, as De Wette observes.

πνευμ., spiritual:—springing from the Spirit of God, and imparted to the spirit of man.

εἰς τὸ στηρ. ὑμ.] Knowing the trials to which they were exposed, and being conscious of the fulness of spiritual power for edification (2 Corinthians 13:10) given to him, he longed to impart some of it to them, that they might be confirmed. “The Apostle does not say εἰς τὸ στηρίζειν ὑμ., for this belongs to God; see ch. Romans 16:25. He is only the instrument: hence the passive.” Philippi.

Verse 12

12.] εἶτα ἐπειδὴ καὶ τοῦτο σφόδρα φορτικὸν ἦν, ὅρα πῶς αὐτὸ παραμυθεῖται διὰ τῆς ἐπαγωγῆς. ἵνα γὰρ μὴ λέγωσι, τί γάρ; σαλευόμεθα καὶ περιφερόμεθα, καὶ τῆς παρὰ σοῦ δεόμεθα γλώττης εἰς τὸ στῆναι βεβαίως, προλαβὼν ἀναιρεῖ τὴν τοιαύτην ἀντίῤῥησιν οὕτω λέγων (Romans 1:12). ὡς ἂν εἰ ἔλεγε, μὴ ὑποπτεύσητε ὅτι κατηγορῶν ὑμῶν εἶπον, οὐ ταύτῃ τῇ γνώμῃ ἐφθεγξάμην τὸ ῥῆμα· ἀλλὰ τί ποτέ ἐστιν, ὅπερ ἠβουλήθην εἰπεῖν; πολλὰς ὑπομένετε θλίψεις ὑπὸ τῶν διωκόντων περιαντλούμενοι· ἐπεθύμησα τοίνυν ὑμᾶς ἰδεῖν, ἵνα παρακαλέσω, μᾶλλον δὲ οὐχ ἵνα παρακαλέσω μόνον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα καὶ αὐτὸς παράκλησιν δέξωμαι. Chrys. Hom. ii. p. 440. The inf. συμπαρακληθῆναι is parallel with στηριχθῆναι, ἐμέ being understood: that is, that I with you may be comforted among you, each by the faith which is in the other. That the gift he wished to impart to them was παράκλησις, is implied in the συνπαρακλ. See the same wish expressed in different words ch. Romans 15:32, and the partial realization of it, Acts 28:15.

ἐν ἀλλήλοις, which might otherwise be ambiguous, is explained by ὑμῶν τε καὶ ἐμοῦ to mean which we recognize in one another: or as above and in A. V. R. The expression “mutual faith,” of the E. V. should properly mean, faith which each has in the other.

πίστις is used in the most general sense—faith as the necessary condition and working instrument of all Christian exhortation, comfort, and confirmation; producing these, and evidenced by them.

Verse 13

13. οὐ θέλω δὲ ὑμ. ἀγ.] A Pauline formula: see reff.

καὶ ἐκωλ. ἄχρι τ. δεῦρο is best as a parenthesis, as it is impossible that ἵνα can depend on ἐκωλύθην. So Demosth. p. 488. 7, ἐμοὶ δʼ, ὦ ἄνδρες ἀθ., δοκεῖ λεπτίνης ( καί μοι πρὸς διὸς μηδὲν ὀργισθῇς· οὐδὲν γὰρ φλαῦρον ἐρῶ σε) ἢ οὐκ ἀνεγνωκέναι τοὺς σόλωνος νόμους ἢ οὐ συνιέναι.

The reason of the hindrance is given in ch. Romans 15:20-22; it was, his φιλοτιμία to preach the gospel where it had not been preached before, rather than on the foundation of others.

καρπόν] Not, ‘wages,’ or ‘result of my apostolic labour,’ for such is not the ordinary meaning of the word in the N. T., but fruit borne by you who have been planted to bring forth fruit to God. This fruit I should then gather and present to God; cf. the figure in ch. Romans 15:16; see also Philippians 1:22 and note.

Verse 14

14.] The connexion seems to be this: He wishes to have some fruit, some produce of expended labour, among the Romans as among other Gentiles. Till this was the case, he himself was a debtor to every such people: which situation of debtor he wished to change, by paying the debt and conferring a benefit, into that of one having money out at interest there, and yielding a καρπός. The debt which he owed to all nations was (Romans 1:15) the obligation laid on him to preach the gospel to them; see 1 Corinthians 9:16.

ἕλλ.— βαρβ.— σοφ.— ἀνοήτ.] These words must not be pressed as applying to any particular churches, or as if any one of them designated the Romans themselves,—or even as if σοφοῖς belonged to ἕλλησιν, and ἀνοήτοις to βαρβάροις. They are used, apparently, merely as comprehending all Gentiles, whether considered in regard of race or of intellect; and are placed here certainly not without a prospective reference to the universality of guilt, and need of the gospel, which he is presently about to prove existed in the Gentile world.

Notice that he does not call himself a debtor to the Jews—for they can hardly be included in βαρβάροις (see Colossians 3:11). Though he had earnest desires for them (ch. Romans 9:1-3; Romans 10:1), and every where preached to them first, this was not his peculiar ὀφείλημα, see Galatians 2:7, where he describes himself as πεπιστευμένος τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας, καθὼς πέτρος τῆς περιτομῆς.

Verse 15

15. οὕτως] “Est quasi … illatio a toto ad partem insignem.” Bengel. ‘As to all Gentiles, so to you, who hold no mean place among them.’

Verse 16

16.] The οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι seems to be suggested by the position of the Romans in the world. ‘Yea, to you at Rome also: for, though your city is mistress of the world, though your emperors are worshipped as present deities, though you are elated by your pomps and luxuries and victories, yet I am not ashamed of the apparently mean origin of the gospel which I am to preach; for (and here is the transition to his great theme) it is,’ &c. So for the most part, Chrysostom, Hom. iii. p. 444.

δύναμις γὰρ θ. ἐστίν] The gospel, which is the greatest example of the Power of God, he strikingly calls that Power itself. (Not, as Jowett, ‘a divine power,’ nor is δικαιος. θεοῦ below to be thus explained, as he alleges.) So in 1 Corinthians 1:24 he calls Christ, the Power of God. But not only is the gospel the great example of divine Power; it is the field of agency of the power of God, working in it, and interpenetrating it throughout.

The bare substantive δύναμις here (and 1 Corinthians 1:24) carries a superlative sense: the highest and holiest vehicle of the divine Power, the δύναμις κατʼ ἐξοχήν. “It is weighty for the difference between the Gospel and the Law, that the Law is never called God’s power, כֹחַ, but light, or teaching, in which a man must walk, Psalms 36:10; Psalms 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; Isaiah 2:5.” Umbreit. And the direction in which this power acts in the gospel is εἰς σωτηρίαν—it is a healing, saving power: for as Chrysostom reminds us, there is a power of God εἰς κόλασιν, and εἰς ἀπώλειαν, see Matthew 10:28.

But to whom is this gospel the power of God to save? παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι. The universality implied in the παντί, the condition necessitated in the πιστεύοντι, and the δύναμις θεοῦ acting εἰς σωτηρίαν, are the great subjects treated of in the former part of this epistle. All are proved to be under sin, and so needing God’s righteousness (ch. Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20), and the entrance into this righteousness is shewn to be by faith (ch. Romans 3:21 to Romans 5:11). Then the δύναμις θεοῦ in freeing from the dominion of sin and death, and as issuing in salvation, is set forth (ch. Romans 5:11 to Romans 8:39). So that if the subject of the Epistle is to be stated in few words, these should be chosen: τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, δύναμις θεοῦ εἰς σωτηρίαν παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι. This expresses it better than merely ‘justification by faith,’ which is in fact only a subordinate part of the great theme,—only the condition necessitated by man’s sinfulness for his entering the state of salvation: whereas the argument extends beyond this, to the death unto sin and life unto God and carrying forward of the sanctifying work of the Spirit, from its first fruits even to its completion.

ἰουδ. πρῶτον κ. ἕλλ.] This is the Jewish expression for all mankind, as ἕλλ. κ. βαρβ. Romans 1:14 is the Greek one. ἕλλ. here includes all Gentiles. πρῶτον is not first in order of time, but principally (compare ch. Romans 2:9), spoken of national precedence, in the sense in which the Jews were to our Lord οἱ ἴδιοι, John 1:11. Salvation was ἐκ τῶν ἰουδαίων, John 4:22. See ch. Romans 9:5; Romans 11:24. Not that the Jew has any preference under the gospel; only he inherits, and has a precedence. οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πρῶτός ἐστι, καὶ πλέον λαμβάνει τῆς χάριτος· ἡ γὰρ αὐτὴ δωρεὰ καὶ τούτῳ κἀκείνῳ δίδοται· ἀλλὰ τάξεώς ἐστι τιμὴ μόνον τὸ πρῶτος. Chrys. Hom. iii. p. 445.

Verse 17

17.] An explanation, how the gospel is the power of God to salvation, and how it is so to the believer:—because in it God’s righteousness (not His attribute of righteousness,—‘the righteousness of God,’ but righteousness flowing from, and acceptable to Him) is unfolded, and the more, the more we believe. I subjoin De Wette’s note on δικ. θεοῦ. “The Greek δικ. and the Heb. צְדָקָה are taken sometimes for ‘virtue’ and ‘piety’ which men possess or strive after,—sometimes imputatively, for ‘freedom from blame’ or ‘justification,’ The latter meaning is most usual with Paul: δικ. is that which is so in the sight of God (ch. Romans 2:13), the result of His justifying forensic Judgment, or of ‘Imputation’ (ch. Romans 4:5). It may certainly be imagined, that a man might obtain justification by fulfilling the law: in that case his righteousness is an ἰδία ( δικαιοσύνη) (ch.Romans 10:3), a δικ. ἐκ τοῦ νόμου (Philippians 3:9). But it is impossible for him to obtain a ‘righteousness of his own,’ which at the same time shall avail before God (ch. Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). The Jews not only have not fulfilled the law (ch. Romans 3:9-19), but could not fulfil it (Romans 7:7 ff.): the Gentiles likewise have rendered themselves obnoxious to the divine wrath (Romans 1:24-32). God has ordained that the whole race should be included in disobedience. Now if man is to become righteous from being unrighteous,—this can only happen by God’s grace,—because God declares him righteous, assumes him to be righteous, δικαιοῖ (Romans 3:24; Galatians 3:8):— δικαιοῦν is not only negative, ‘to acquit,’ as הַצְדִּיק, Exodus 23:7; Isaiah 5:23; ch. Romans 2:13 (where however see my note), but also positive, ‘to declare righteous:’ but never ‘to make righteous’ by transformation, or imparting of moral strength by which moral perfection may be attained. Justificatio must be taken as the old protestant dogmatists rightly took it, sensu forensi, i.e. imputatively. God justifies for Christ’s sake (ch. Romans 3:22 ff.) on condition of faith in Him as Mediator: the result of His justification is δικαιοσύνη ἐκ πίστεως, and as He imparts it freely, it is δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ (gen. subj.) or ἐκ θεοῦ, Philippians 3:9; so Chrys. &c. ( δικ. θεοῦ is ordinarily taken for δικ. παρὰ θεῷ, as Luth.: ‘die Gerechtigfeit die vor Gott gilt:’ compare ch. Romans 2:13; Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:11; but that this is at least not necessary, see 2 Corinthians 5:21). This justification is certainly an objective act of God: but it must also be subjectively apprehended, as its condition is subjective. It is the acquittal from guilt, and cheerfulness of conscience, attained through faith in God’s grace in Christ,—the very frame of mind which would be proper to a perfectly righteous man,—if such there were,—the harmony of the spirit with God,—peace with God. All interpretations which overlook the fact of imputation (the R.-Cath., that of Grotius, Baumgarten-Crusius, &c.) are erroneous.” To say, with Jowett, that all attempts to define δικαιος. θεοῦ are “the after-thoughts of theology, which have no real place in the interpretation of Scripture,” is in fact to shut our eyes to the great doctrinal facts of Christianity, and float off at once into uncertainty about the very foundations of the Apostle’s argument and our own faith: of which uncertainty his note here is an eminent example.

ἐν αὐτῷ] in it, ‘the gospel:’ not, in τῷ πιστεύοντι.

ἀποκαλύπτεται] generally used of making known a thing hitherto concealed: but here of that gradually more complete realization of the state of justification before God by faith in Christ, which is the continuing and increasing gift of God to the believer in the Gospel.

ἐκ πίστεως] “ ἐκ points to the condition, or the subjective ground. πίστις is faith in the sense of trust, and that (a) a trustful assumption of a truth in reference to knowledge = conviction: (b) a trustful surrender of the soul, as regards the feeling. Here it is especially the latter of these: that trust reposed in God’s grace in Christ, which tranquillizes the soul and frees it from all guilt,—and especially trust in the atoning death of Jesus. Bound up with this (not by the meaning of the words, but by the idea of unconditional trust, which excludes all reserve) is humility, consisting in the abandonment of all merits of a man’s own, and recognition of his own unworthiness and need of redemption.” De Wette.

εἰς πίστιν] ἀπὸ πίστεως ἄρχεται κ. εἰς πιστεύοντα λήγει (Œcum.) seems the most probable interpretation, making πίστιν almost = τοὺς πιστεύοντας, see ch. Romans 3:22; but not entirely,—it is still the aspect, the phase, of the man, which is receptive of the δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, and to this it is revealed. The other interpretations,—‘for the increase of faith’ (Meyer),—‘that faith may be given to it’ (Fritzsche, Tholuck, Krebs),—‘proceeding from faith, and leading to a higher degree of faith’ (Baumg.-Crus.),—do not seem so suitable or forcible. It will be observed that ἐκ π. εἰς π. is taken with ἀποκαλύπτεται, not with δικαιοσύνη. The latter connexion would do for ἐκ π., but not for εἰς π.

καθὼς γέγρ.] He shews that righteousness by faith is no new idea, but found in the prophets. The words (ref.) are cited again in Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38, in the former place with the same purpose as here. They are used in Habakkuk with reference to credence given to the prophetic word: but properly speaking, all faith is one, in whatever word or act of God reposed: so that the Apostle is free from any charge of forcing the words to the present purpose. The two ways of arranging them, ὁ δίκαιοςἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται, and ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεωςζήσεται, in fact amount to the same: if the former, which is more agreeable to the Heb., be taken, ζήσεται must mean, ‘shall live on,’ endure in his δικαιοσύνη, by means of faith, which would assert that it was a δικαιοσύνη of faith, as strongly as does the latter. See by all means, on the quotation, Umbreit’s note: and Delitzsch, der Proph. Habakuk, p. 51 ff. This latter remarks (I quote from Philippi), “The Apostle rests no more on our text than it will bear. He only places its assertion, that the life of the just springs from his faith, in the light of the N. T.”

Verse 18

18.] He first states the general fact, of all mankind; but immediately passes off to the consideration of the majority of mankind, the Gentiles; reserving the Jews for exceptional consideration afterwards.

ἀποκ. γἀρ] The statement of Romans 1:17 was, that the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God is revealed. The necessary condition of this revelation is, the DESTRUCTION of the righteousness of MAN by the revelation of God’s anger against sin.

ἀποκαλύπτεται, not in the Gospel (as Grot.): not in men’s consciences (as Tholuck, ed. 1, Reiche): ‘not in the miserable state of the then world (as Köllner): but (as implied indeed by the adjunct ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ,—that it is a providential, universally-to-be-seen revelation) in the PUNISHMENTS which, Romans 1:24, God has made to follow upon sin, see also ch. Romans 2:2 (so De W., Meyer, Tholuck, ed. 5, &c.). So that ἀποκ. is of an objective reality here, not of an evangelic internal and subjective unfolding.

ὀργὴ θεοῦ is anthropopathically, but with the deepest truth, put for the righteousness of God in punishment (see ch. Romans 2:8; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 2:3; Matthew 3:7; John 3:36). It is the opposite, in the divine attributes, to Love (De W.).

ἀπʼ οὐρ. (see above) belongs to ἀποκαλύπτεται, not to θεοῦ, nor to ὀργὴ θεοῦ ( ἡ ἀπʼ οὐρ.).

ἀσέβειαν, godlessness; ἀδικίαν, iniquity: but neither term is exclusive of the other, nor to be formally pressed to its limits. They overlap and include each other by a large margin: the specific difference being, that ἀσέβ. is more the fountain (but at the same time partially the result) of ἀδικία,—which ἀδικ. is more the result (but at the same time partially the fountain) of ἀσέβεια. ἀδικ. is the state of the thoughts and feelings and habits, induced originally by forgetfulness of God, and in its turn inducing impieties of all kinds. We may notice by the way, that the word ἀσέβεια forms an interesting link to the Pastoral Epistles [where it, and its opposite εὐσέβεια are the ordinary terms for an unholy and a holy life].

ἀνθρ. τῶν τὴν ἀλ. ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων] of men who hold back the truth in iniquity: who, possessing enough of the germs of religious and moral verity to preserve them from abandonment, have checked the development of this truth in their lives, in the love and practice of sin. That this is the meaning of κατεχόντων here is plain from this circumstance: that wherever κατέχω in the N. T. signifies ‘to hold,’ it is emphatic, ‘to hold fast,’ or ‘to keep to,’ or ‘to take or have complete possession of:’ see for the first, Luke 8:15; 1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Corinthians 15:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 10:23; for the second, Luke 14:9 (every other place except the lowest being excluded): for the third, Matthew 21:38; 1 Corinthians 7:30. Now no such emphatic sense will apply here. If the word is to mean ‘holding,’ it must be only in the loosest and least emphatic sense: ‘having a half and indistinct consciousness of,’ which does not at all correspond to the κατά, indicating vehemence of purpose, as in καταφιλέω, &c. But the meaning ‘keeping back,’ ‘hindering the development of,’—while it has a direct example in Paul’s own usage in reff., and in Luke 4:42, and indirect ones in (the spurious John 5:4) Acts 27:40; ch. Romans 7:6; Philemon 1:13,—admirably suits the sense, that men had (see Romans 1:19 ff.) knowledge of God sufficient, if its legitimate work had been allowed, to have kept them from such excesses of enormity as they have committed, but that this ἀλήθεια they κατεῖχον ἐν ἀδικίᾳ, i.e. crushed, quenched, in (as the element, conditional medium in which) their state and practice of unrighteousness. It is plain that to take ἐν ἀδικίᾳ for ἀδίκως (as Theophyl. and Reiche) is to miss the force of the expression altogether—the pregnant ἐν, ‘in and by,’ implying that it is their ἀδικία,—the very absence of δικαιοσύνη for which the argument contends,—which is the status wherein, and the instrument whereby, they hold back the truth lit up in their consciences.

Verses 18-36

Romans 1:18 to Romans 11:36.] THE DOCTRINAL EXPOSITION OF THE ABOVE TRUTH: THAT THE GOSPEL IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH. And herein, ch. Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20,—inasmuch as this power of God consists in the revelation of God’s righteousness in man by faith, and in order to faith the first requisite is the recognition of man’s unworthiness, and incapability to work a righteousness for himself,—the Apostle begins by proving that all, Gentiles and Jews, are GUILTY before God, as holding back the truth in unrighteousness. And FIRST, ch. Romans 1:18-32, OF THE GENTILES.

Verse 19

19.] διότι, because, may either give the reason why the anger of God is revealed, and thus apply to all that follows as far as Romans 1:32, being taken up again at Romans 1:21; Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28 (so Meyer): or may explain τῶν.… κατεχ. (so Thol.): which latter seems most probable: the subauditum being, ‘(this charge I bring against them), because.’ For he proves, first (Romans 1:20) that they had the ἀλήθεια; then (Romans 1:21 ff.) that they held it back.

τὸ γνωστόν, that which is known, the objective knowledge patent and recognized in Creation:—so Chrys., Theodoret, Luther, Reiche, Meyer, De Wette, al.:—not ‘that which may be known’ (as Orig(2), Theophyl., Œc(3), Erasm., Beza, Grot., al. [and E. V.]), which would assert what, as simple matter of fact, was not the case, that all which could be known of God was φανερὸν ἐν αὐτοῖς. He speaks now not of what they might have known of God, but of what they did know. Thus τὸ γνωστ. τ. θεοῦ will mean, that universal objective knowledge of God as the Creator which we find more or less in every nation under heaven, and which, as matter of historical fact, was proved to be in possession of the great Gentile nations of antiquity.

φαν. ἐστ. ἐν αὐτοῖς] is evident in them, i.e. in their hearts: not, to them (as Luth.),—nor, among them (as Erasm., Grot., &c.): for if it had been a thing acknowledged among them, it would not have been κατεχόμενον. Every man has in him this knowledge; his senses convey it to him (see next verse) with the phænomena of nature.

ὁ θ. γ. ἐφ.] gives the reason why that which is known of God is manifest in them, viz. because God Himself so created the world as to leave impressed on it this testimony to Himself.

Notice, and keep to, the historic aorist, ἐφανέρωσεν, not ‘hath manifested it’ (perf.), but manifested it, viz. at the Creation. This is important for the right understanding of ἀπὸ κτ. κόσμ. Romans 1:20.

Verse 20

20.] For (justifying the clause preceding) His invisible attributes (hence the plur. applying to δύναμις and θειότης which follow), ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμ., from the time of the creation, when the manifestation was made by God: not = ἐκ κτίσεως κ. ‘by the creation of the world;’ which would be tautological, τοῖς ποιήμασι νοούμενα following, besides that κτίσις κόσμου cannot = ἡ κτίσις, in the sense of ‘the creation,’ i.e. ‘the creatures.’ Umbreit has here a long and important note on O. T. prophecy in general, which will be found well worth study.

τοῖς ποιήμ. νοούμ.] being understood (apprehended by the mind, see reff.) by means of His works (of creation and sustenance,—not here of moral government), καθορᾶται, are perceived; not, ‘are plainly seen,’—this is not the sense of κατά in καθοράω, but rather that of looking down on, taking a survey of, and so apprehending or perceiving.

ἥ τε ἀΐδ. αὐτ. δύν.] His eternal Power. To this the evidence of Creation is plainest of all: Eternal, and Almighty, have always been recognized epithets of the Creator.

κ. θειότης] and Divinity (not Godhead, which would be θεότης). The fact that the Creator is divine;—is of a different nature from ourselves, and accompanied by distinct attributes, and those of the highest order,—which we call divine.

εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτ. ἀναπολ.] εἰς τό with an inf. never properly indicates only the result, ‘so that;’ but is often used where the result, and the intention, are bound together in the process of thought. This is done by a very natural habit in speaking and writing, of transferring one’s self to the position of the argument, and regarding that which contributed to a result, as worked purposely for that result. And however true it is, that in the doings of the Allwise, all results are purposed,—to give the sense ‘in order that they might be inexcusable,’ would be manifestly contrary to the whole spirit of the argument, which is bringing out, not at present God’s sovereignty in dealing with man, but man’s inexcusableness in holding back the truth by unrighteousness. εἰς τό, then, in this case, is most nearly expressed by wherefore, or so that. See Winer, edn. 6, § 44. 6. οὐ διὰ τοῦτο ταῦτα πεποίηκεν ὁ θεός, εἰ καὶ τοῦτο ἐξέβη. οὐ γὰρ ἵνα αὐτοὺς ἀπολογίας ἀποστερήσῃ, διδασκαλίαν τοσαύτην εἰς μέσον προύθηκεν, ἀλλʼ ἵνα αὐτὸν ἐπιγνῶσιν· ἀγνωμονήσαντες δὲ πάσης ἑαυτοὺς ἀπεστέρησαν ἀπολογίας. Chrys. Hom. iv. p. 450.

Verse 21

21. διότι] expands ἀναπολογήτους—‘without excuse, because …’

γνόντες] ‘with the knowledge above stated.’ This participle testifies plainly that matter of fact, and not of possibility, has been the subject of the foregoing verses. From this point, we take up what they MIGHT HAVE DONE, but DID NOT.

οὐχ ὡς θεὸν ἐδόξ.] They did not give Him glory ( δοξάζω here principally of recognition by worship) AS GOD, i.e. as the great Creator of all, distinct from and infinitely superior to all His works. Bengel well divides ἐδόξασαν and ηὐχαρίστησαν—“Gratias agere debemus ob beneficia: glorificare ob ipsas virtutes divinas.” They did neither: in their religion, they deposed God from His place as Creator,—in their lives, they were ungrateful by the abuse of His gifts.

ἐματαιώθησαν] הָבַל, vanus fuit, is used of worshipping idols, 2 Kings 17:15; Jeremiah 2:5, and הֶבֶל, vanitas, of an idol. Deuteronomy 32:21; 1 Kings 16:26 al.: and hence probably the word ματαιόω was here chosen.

διαλογισμοῖς] their thoughts: but generally in N.T. in a bad sense: they became vain (idle, foolish) in their speculations.

ἐσκοτίσθη ἡ ἀσύν. αὐτ. καρδ.] ἀσύνετος is not the result of ἐσκοτ.,—‘became darkened so as to lose its understanding,’—but the converse,—their heart ( καρδία of the whole inner man,—the seat of knowledge and feeling) being foolish (unintelligent, not retaining God in its knowledge) became dark (lost the little light it had, and wandered blindly in the mazes of folly).

Verse 22

22. φάσκοντες εἶν. σοφ.] Not, ‘because they professed themselves wise,’ but while they professed themselves wise—professing themselves to be wise. The words relate perhaps not so much to the schools of philosophy, as to the assumption of wisdom by the Greeks in general, see 1 Corinthians 1:22, of which assumption their philosophers were indeed eminent, but not the only examples.

Verse 23

23. ἤλλαξαν κ. τ. λ.] quoted from ref. Ps., only τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν, ‘their glory,’ of the Psalm, is changed to ‘God’s glory,’—viz. His Power and Majesty visible in the Creation. ἐν represents the conditional element in which the change subsisted.

ἀφθάρτου and φθαρτοῦ shew by contrast the folly of such a substitution: He who made and upholds all things must be incorruptible, and no corruptible thing can express His likeness.

ὁμοιώματι εἰκόνος] the similitude of the formεἰκόνος generalizes it to mean the human form, it not being any one particular man, but the form of man (examples being abundant) to which they degraded God,—and so of the other creatures. Deities of the human form prevailed in Greece—those of the bestial in Egypt. Both methods of worship were practised in Rome.

Verse 24

24.] The καί after διό may import, As they advanced in departure from God, so God also on His part gave them up, &c.;—His dealings with them had a progression likewise.

παρέδωκεν] not merely permissive, but judicial: God delivered them over. As sin begets sin, and darkness of mind deeper darkness, grace gives place to judgment, and the divine wrath hardens men, and hurries them on to more fearful degrees of depravity.

ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθ.] in the lusts—not by nor through the lusts (as Erasmus and E. V.);—the lusts of the heart were the field of action, the department of their being, in which this dishonour took place.

ἀκαθαρσίαν] more than mere profligacy in the satisfaction of natural lust (as Olsh.); for the Apostle uses cognate words ἀτιμάζεσθαι and ἀτιμία here and in Romans 1:26 :—bestiality; impurity in the physical, not only in the social and religious sense.

τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι] the genitive may imply either (1) the purpose of God’s delivering them over to impurity, ‘that their bodies should be dishonoured,’ or (2) the result of that delivering over, ‘so that their bodies were dishonoured,’ or (3) the nature of the ἀκαθαρσία, as πάθη ἀτιμίας below,—‘impurity, which consisted in their bodies being dishonoured.’ The second of these seems most accordant with the usage of the Apostle and with the argument.

ἀτιμάζεσθαι is most likely passive (Beza, al. De Wette), as the middle of ἀτιμάζω is not found in use. And this is confirmed by the old and probably genuine reading αὐτοῖς, which has been altered to ἑαυτοῖς from imagining that ‘they’ was the subject to ἀτιμάζεσθαι. So that their bodies were dishonoured among them.

Verses 24-32

24–32.] Immorality, and indeed bestiality, were the sequel of idolatry.

Verse 25

25.] This verse casts light on the τὴν ἀλήθ. ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων of Romans 1:18. The truth of God (the true notion of Him as the Creator) which they professed, they changed into (see on ἐν, Romans 1:23) a lie ( ψεῦδος = שֶׁקֶר, used of idols, Jeremiah 16:19), thus counteracting its legitimate agency and depriving it of all power for good.

σεβάζομαι, of the honour of respect and observance and reverence,— λατρεύω, of formal worship with sacrifice and offering. Both verbs belong to τῇ κτίσει; though σεβάζομαι would require an accusative, λατρεύω, the nearest, takes the government.

τῇ κτ.] the thing made, the creature—a general term for all objects of idolatrous worship.

παρά, beyond—which would amount to the exclusion of the Creator.

The doxology expresses the horror of the Apostle at this dishonour, and puts their sin in a more striking light. But we need not supply εἰ καὶ οὗτοι ὕβρισαν, as Chrys.

εὐλογητός is Blessed, κατʼ ἐξοχήν: the LXX put for it the perf. part., Ps. 117:24. The adjective is usually of God: the participle, of man.

Verse 26

26.] πάθη ἀτιμ.,—see above, Romans 1:24,—stronger than ἄτιμα πάθη, as setting forth the status, ἀτιμία, to which the πάθη belonged. Contrast 1 Thessalonians 4:4, τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι ἐν τιμῇ.

χρῆσιν usum venereum; see examples in Wetstein. This abuse is spoken of first, as being the most revolting to nature. “In peccatis arguendis sæpe scapha debet scapha dici. Pudorem præposterum ii fere postulant qui pudicitia carent … Gravitas et ardor stili judicialis, proprietate verborum non violat verecundiam.” Bengel.

Verse 27

27.] τὴν ἀσχημ. perhaps, as De W., ‘the (well-known, too frequent) indecency,’—‘cui ipsa corporis … conformatio reclamat,’ Bengel: but more probably the article is only generic, as in 2 Peter 1:5-8 repeatedly.

τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν] The Apostle treats this ἀτιμία into which they fell, as a consequence of, a retribution for, their departure from God into idolatry,—with which in fact it was closely connected. This shame, and not its consequences, which are not here treated of, is the ἀντιμισθία of their πλάνη, their aberration from the knowledge of God, which they received. This is further shewn by ἣν ἔδει in the past tense. εἰ λὰρ καὶ μὴ γέεννα ἦν, μηδὲ κόλασις ἠπείλητο, τοῦτο πάσης κολάσεως χεῖρον ἦν. εἰ δὲ ἥδονται, τὴν προσθήκην μοι λέγεις τῆς τιμωρίας. Chrys. Hom. v. p.457.

ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, in their own persons, viz. by their degradation even below the beasts.

Verse 28

28.] The play on δοκιμάζω and ἀδόκιμος can hardly be expressed in any other language. ‘Non probaverunt’ and ‘reprobum’ of the Vulgate does not give it. Because they reprobated the knowledge of God, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, is indeed a very inadequate, but as far as the form of the two words is concerned, an accurate representation of it. (Mr. Conybeare gives it,—“As they thought fit to cast out the acknowledgment of God, God gave them over, to an outcast mind.”) For ἀδόκιμος is not ‘judicii expers’ (as Beza, Tholuck, &c.), but reprobate, rejected by God. God withdrew from them His preventing grace and left them to the evil which they had chosen. The active sense of ἀδόκιμος, besides being altogether unexampled, would, in the depth of its meaning, be inconsistent with the assertion of the passage. God did not give them up to a mind which had lost the faculty of discerning, but to a mind judicially abandoned to that depravity which, being well able to exercise the δοκιμασία required, not only does not do so, but in the headlong current of its abandonment to evil, sympathizes with and encourages (Romans 1:32) its practice in others. It is the ‘video meliora proboque,’ which makes the ‘deteriora sequor’ so peculiarly criminal.

οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν ἔχειν is not = ἐδοκίμ. οὐκ ἔχειν (as Dr. Burton): the latter would express more a deliberate act of the judgment ending in rejection of God, whereas the text charges them with not having exercised that judgment which would, if exercised, have led to the retention of God in their knowledge.

ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγν.] So Job 21:14,—“they say to God, Depart from us: for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways,” and Job 22:15-17.

Verses 29-31

29–31.] πεπληρωμένους belongs to the subject of ποιεῖν, understood.

The reading πορνείᾳ appears to have arisen out of πονηρίᾳ, and is placed by some MSS. after that word, by some after κακίᾳ, omitting πον. The Apostle can hardly have written it here, treating as he does all these immoralities of the heart and conscience as results of, and flowing from, the licentious practices of idolatry above specified.

Accurate distinctions of ethical meaning can hardly be found for all these words. Without requiring such, or insisting on each excluding the rest, I have collected the most interesting notices respecting them. Umbreit has illustrated their LXX usage and Hebrew equivalents.

ἀδικίᾳ] Perhaps a general term, comprehending all that follow: such would be according to the usage of the Epistle: but perhaps to be confined to the stricter import of injustice; of which on the part of the Romans, Wetst. gives abundant testimonies.

πονηρίᾳ] Ammonius interprets τὸ πονηρόν, τὸ δραστικὸν κακοῦ,—used therefore more of the tempter and seducer to evil.

πλεονεξίᾳ] covetousness (not as 1 Thessalonians 4:6, see there), of which the whole provincial government and civil life of the Romans at the time was full. ‘Quando | major avaritiæ patuit sinus?’ exclaims Juvenal, soon after this. Sat. i. 87.

κακίᾳ] more the passive side of evil—the capability of and proclivity to evil,—the opposite to ἀρετή:—so Arist. Eth. Nic. ii. 3. 6, ὑπόκειται ἄρα ἡ ἀρετὴ εἶναι.… τῶν βελτίστων πρακτική· ἡ δὲ κακία, τοὐναντίον.

φθόνου and φόνου are probably put together from similarity of sound. So Eurip. Troad. 770 ff., ὦ τυνδάρειον ἔρνος, οὔποτʼ εἶ διὸς πολλῶν δὲ πατέρων φημί σʼ ἐκπεφυκέναι, ἀλάστορος μὲν πρῶτον, εἶτα δὲ φθόνου, φόνου τε, θανάτου θʼ, ὅσα τε γῆ τρέφει κακά.

κακοηθείας] Sea reff.

ψιθυρ. secret maligners,— καταλ. open slanderers. The distinction attempted to be set up by Suidas and others, between θεομισής, ὑπὸ θεοῦ μισούμενος, and θεομίσης, ὁ μισῶν τὸν θεόν, has been applied to θεοστυγεῖς also, which has therefore been written θεοστύγεις. But the distinction is untenable; all compound adjectives in ης being oxyton.

θεοστυγής is never found in an active sense, ‘hater of God,’ but always in a passive, hated by God (cf. Eur. Troad. 1205, ἡ θεοστυγὴς ἑλένη: Cycl. 395, τῷ θεοστυγεῖ ᾅδου μαγείρῳ: ib. 598: so θεοφιλής, Demosth. 1486 ult.: εὐτυχεστάτην πασῶν πόλεων τὴν ὑμετέραν νομίζω καὶ θεοφιλεστάτην: and Æsch. Eum. 831); and such is apparently the sense here. The order of crimes enumerated would be broken, and one of a totally different kind inserted between καταλάλους and ὑβριστάς, if θεοστ. is to signify ‘haters of God.’ But on the other supposition,—if any crime was known more than another as ‘hated by the gods,’ it was that of ‘delatores,’ abandoned persons who circumvented and ruined others by a system of malignant espionage and false information. And the crime was one which the readers of this part of Roman history know to have been the pest of the state; see Tacitus, Ann. vi. 7, where he calls the delatores ‘Principi quidem grati, et Deo exosi.’ So also Philo, ap. Damascen. (quoted by Wetst.) διάβολοι καὶ θείας ἀποπέμπτοι χάριτος, οἱ τὴν αὐτὴν ἐκείνῳ διαβολικὴν νοσοῦντες κακοτεχνίαν, θεοστυγεῖς τε καὶ θεομισεῖς πάντη. It does not follow that the delatores only are intended, but the expression may be used to include all those abandoned persons who were known as Diis exosi, who were employed in pursuits hateful and injurious to their kind. So Wetst., Meyer, Rückert, Fritzsche, De Wette:—the majority of Commentators incline to the active sense,—so Theodoret, Œc(4), Erasm., Luther, Calv., Beza, Estius, Grot., Tholuck, Reiche, &c.

ὑβριστάς] opposed by Xenoph. Mem. i. ana Apol. Socr. to σώφρων, ‘a discreet and modest man:’ but here perhaps, as said by Paul of himself, ref. 1 Tim., ‘qui contumeliâ afficit,’ ‘an insulting person.’

ὑπερηφάνους] ἐστὶ δὲ ὑπερηφανία καταφρόνησίς τις πλὴν αὑτοῦ τῶν ἄλλων, Theophr. Char. 34. It may be observed that Aristotle, Rhet. ii. 16, mentions ὑβρισταί and ὑπερήφανοι as examples of τῷ πλούτῳ ἃ ἕπεται ἤθη.

ἀλαζόνας] see reff. δοκεῖ δὲ καὶ ἀλαζὼν εἶναι ὁ θρασὺς καὶ προσποιητικὸς ἀνδρείας, Aristot. Eth. Nic. iii. 10. δοκεῖ δὴ ὁ μὲν ἀλαζὼν προσποιητικὸς τῶν ἐνδόξων εἶναι, καὶ μὴ ὑπαρχόντων, καὶ μειζόνων ἢ ὑπάρχει.… ( ἕνεκα δόξης καὶ τιμῆς).… καὶ γὰρ ἡ ὑπερβολὴ καὶ ἡ λίαν ἔλλειψις ἀλαζονικόν, Ibid. iv. 13.

ἐφευρ. κακ.] ‘Sejanus omnium facinorum repertor habebatur,’ Tacit. Ann. iv. 11:—‘scelerumque inventor Ulixes,’ Virg. Æn. ii. 161: στασιάρχαι, φιλοπράγμονες, κακῶν εὑρεταί, ταραξιπόλιδες, Philo in Flacc. § 4, vol. ii. p. 520:— πάσης κακίας εὑρετής (of Antiochus Epiph(5)), 2 Maccabees 7:31.

ἀσυνέτους, destitute of (moral) understanding, see Colossians 1:9, and reff. Here perhaps suggested by the similarity of sound to ἀσυνθέτους, without good faith, οὐκ ἐμμένοντας ταῖς συνθήκαις, Suid. and Hesych(6) In the same sense, εὐσυνθετεῖν and ἀσυνθετεῖν are opposed by Chrysippus and Plutarch (see Wetst.).

ἀστόργους] μὴ ἀγαπῶντάς τινα, Hesych(7) And Athenæus, speaking of οἱ καλούμενοι ὄρνιθες μελεαγρίδες,— ἐστὶ δὲ ἄστοργον πρὸς τὰ ἔκγονα τὸ ὄρνεον, καὶ ὀλιγωρεῖ τῶν νεωτέρων, xiv. p. 655 c. “In hac urbe nemo liberos tollit, quia, quisquis suos hæredes habet, nec ad cœnas nec ad spectacula admittitur.” Petronius, 116. (Wetst.)

Verse 32

32.] The Apostle advances to the highest grade of moral abandonment,—the knowledge of God’s sentence against such crimes, united with the contented practice of them, and encouragement of them in others.

τὸ δικαίωμα τ. θ.] the sentence of God, unmistakeably pronounced in the conscience.

ὅτι κ. τ. λ.] viz. that they who do such things are worthy of death; this is the sentence, and must not be enclosed in a parenthesis, as in Wetstein, Griesbach, and Scholz.

θανάτου, what sort of death? Probably a general term for the fatal consequence of sin; that such courses lead to ruin. The word can hardly be pressed to its exact meaning: for many of the crimes mentioned could never be visited with judicial capital punishment in this world (as Grot.): nor could the heathen have any definite idea of eternal, spiritual death, as the penalty attached to sin (Calov.),—nor again, any idea of the connexion between sin and natural death. “Life and Death,” remarks Umbreit, “are ever set over against one another in the O. T. as well as in the N. T., the one as including all good that can befall us, the other, all evil.” p. 246

The description here given by the Apostle of the moral state of the heathen world should by all means be compared with that in Thucyd. iii. 82–84, of the moral state of Greece in the Peloponnesian war: and a passage in Wisdom of Solomon 14:22-31, the opening of which is remarkably similar to our text: εἶτʼ οὐκ ἤρκεσε τὸ πλανᾶσθαι περὶ τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ γνῶσιν, ἀλλὰ.…, Romans 1:22, and again Romans 1:27, ἡ γὰρ τῶν ἀνωνύμων εἰδώλων θρησκεία παντὸς ἀρχὴ κακοῦ καὶ αἰτία καὶ πέρας ἐστίν.


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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