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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Romans Overview




THE Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans in this series had been entrusted by the late General Editor to Dr Bebb of Lampeter. It was only when Dr Bebb’s engagements made it impossible for him to complete the task, that the work was entrusted by the Syndics of the Press to the present editor. No one can be more conscious than the editor himself how much has been lost by the change and how inadequately the trust has been fulfilled. It would, in any case, have been impossible to include, within the limits necessarily imposed, an even relatively complete treatment of this Epistle: and the difficulty of approaching to such a treatment, as was possible, has been increased by the pressure of other occupations. The most that can be hoped is that this edition may serve as an introduction to the study of the Epistle. I have aimed at giving a clear statement of the conditions under which it was written and of the general argument as illustrating and illustrated by those conditions. In the Commentary I have desired to give a close exposition of the text and of the sequence of thought, leaving the larger treatment of theological subjects and the wider illustration of thoughts and language to be sought in the great commentaries.

My obligations to previous writers will be seen by the references throughout the book. But there are some which must be explicitly acknowledged. There are few pages which do not reveal debts to the classical English edition of Drs Sanday and Headlam, and to the Prolegomena to the Grammar of the New Testament of Professor J. H. Moulton, a work whose constant usefulness to the student makes him impatient for its completion. If I add to these the posthumously published lectures and commentaries of Dr Hort, I am acknowledging a debt which all Cambridge theological students will recognise as not admitting of exaggeration. Finally I wish to express my most grateful acknowledgments to Mr J. H. A. Hart, Fellow and Lecturer of S. John’s College, for his generous assistance in looking over the proofs and many most useful criticisms and suggestions.


Michaelmas, 1912.


The Greek Text adopted in this Series is that of Dr Westcott and Dr Hort with the omission of the marginal readings. For permission to use this Text the thanks of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press and of the General Editor are due to Messrs Macmillan & Co.



THE genuineness of the Epistle to the Romans is common ground for the great majority of critics. The few attempts to impugn it are based upon arbitrary and subjective methods which have no foundation in the known history and ignore the ordinary canons of literary criticism. It may be taken as admitted that the whole Epistle is genuine, even if it is composite, with the possible exception of Romans 16:25-27, which section is, on arguable grounds, referred by some critics to a Pauline author writing from the point of view of the Epistle to the Ephesians and the Pastoral Epistles, on the assumption that these Epistles also are Pauline but not S. Paul’s.

The literary history of the Epistle begins early. It was undoubtedly known to and used by the author of 1 Peter[1], probably by Hebrews, James[2], and Jude (24, 25). It is quoted (not by name) by Clement R. and used by Ep. Barnabas, Ignatius, Polycarp, and perhaps Hermas[3]. Justin Martyr and Athenagoras were familiar with it. It appears in the Canon of Marcion[4], in the Muratorian Canon, and is cited by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian. No Epistle, except 1 Corinthians, has an earlier or more continuous record[5].


The integrity of the Epistle has been impugned, on grounds which can be regarded as serious, only in connexion with cc. 15, 16. The questions raised about these chapters are discussed in the commentary and additional notes. It is sufficient to say here that the only point on which a strong case has been made out against the integrity relates to c. Romans 16:1-23, which is regarded by many critics as a short letter, or fragment of a letter, of S. Paul to the Church in Ephesus. The arguments for this hypothesis and the reasons for rejecting it are given in the commentary. If the hypothesis is accepted, it postulates a very early combination of the two letters, antecedent to the period which is covered by our documentary evidence. Such a combination would be not likely to be made, except on an occasion when a collection of S. Paul’s letters was being made. We have in all probability a combination of two letters in the case of the second Epistle to the Corinthians, at a date, again, antecedent to documentary evidence. As both parts of the assumed combination in Romans were written from Corinth, and the two fragments combined in 2 Corinthians were written to Corinth, the hypothesis would increase the probability that a collection of Pauline letters was made at a very early date at Corinth. It would naturally include 1 Corinthians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians, both written from Corinth, and possibly Galatians on the same ground. The hypothesis implies that copies of letters written from Corinth were made and deposited with the Church there. But in all this there is no more than an interesting hypothesis.


The date of the Epistle can be obtained with unusual certainty from the evidence afforded by the Epistle itself. S. Paul has not yet visited Rome (Romans 1:10, Romans 15:22 f.), but he intends to visit it as soon as he has carried out his immediate purpose of a journey to Jerusalem (Romans 15:25). The special object of this journey is to carry to the Church in Jerusalem, for the benefit of the poor, a contribution from the Churches of Macedonia and Achaea (Romans 15:26, Asia is not mentioned). He has already preached the Gospel as far as Illyricum and so rounded off his missionary labours in Asia and Greece (Romans 15:19; Romans 15:23) and hopes to resume them in Spain (Romans 15:24) after he has visited Rome, preached there (Romans 1:13) and received from the Church in Rome spiritual refreshment and a good send-off for his labours in Spain (Romans 15:24).

The situation thus indicated is closely similar to the situation described in the Acts as characterising his stay in Greece during the three winter months after his departure from Ephesus (Acts 19:21; Acts 20:2-4; Acts 21:15; Acts 24:17). It agrees further with the references in 1 Corinthians 16:1 f. and 2 Corinthians 8, 9. to the contribution for the poor saints in Jerusalem. All indications thus point clearly to the winter of 56–57 (55–56; see Chronological Table, p. xlviii).

The place of this Epistle in the order of S. Paul’s writings is, therefore, clearly marked. It comes after 1 and 2 Corinthians, and before Philippians, etc. Its place in reference to Galatians depends upon the view taken of that Epistle and is discussed in the edition of Galatians in this Commentary.

As regards the place of writing, that too is fixed at Corinth by the above consideration, and this conclusion is perhaps confirmed by the reference to Gaius (Romans 16:23, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:14) and Erastus (ib[6], cf. 2 Timothy 4:20). It is possible however that the concluding chapter was written from Kenchreae; as Phoebe was apparently the bearer of the letter (Romans 16:1 f.), and S. Paul appears to have gone to Kenchreae with a view to sailing to Syria, when his plans were changed by the discovery of a conspiracy formed against him by ‘the Jews’ (Acts 20:3). It is at least possible that the circumstances which led to this change of plans may have occasioned the insertion of the paragraph (Romans 16:17-20) in the last chapter.


The immediate occasion of the letter is quite clearly and directly stated in the letter itself. S. Paul, it appears, does not regard the Church of Rome as in need of his teaching or assistance (Romans 1:11-12, Romans 15:14), nor has he received any appeal or invitation from them. His own keen interest in their welfare has long inspired him with an ardent desire to visit them: but his missionary labours and the need of supervision of the Churches of his own foundation have been the immediate and constant call (Romans 15:22). It is only now, when the field of missionary work in the Eastern Mediterranean has been covered, and the needs of the Churches met (Romans 15:23), that he is able to consider what field of labour is marked out for him next. His call throughout has been to break new ground for the Gospel (Romans 15:20-21). He did indeed hope that even in Rome itself he might find scope for missionary work (Romans 1:13), and that hope, by strange and unexpected ways, was, as we know, amply fulfilled (Philippians 1:12 ff.). But he has now decisively turned his mind towards Spain, as the next great opportunity (Romans 15:24; Romans 15:28). But, in order to enter upon that great field under the most favourable conditions, he desires to secure for himself the natural and most effective base of operations. As he had evangelised South Galatia from Antioch, Macedonia from Philippi, Achaia from Corinth, Asia (the province) from Ephesus, so he decides that before attacking Spain he must secure in the highest degree the sympathy and support of the Church in Rome (Romans 15:24 b, cf. Romans 1:11-12). But he is confronted here by new circumstances. In all the other cases, he first founded the Church in the local capital and could then claim the assistance of his converts for further missionary efforts, almost as a right (cf. Philippians 1:4 f.). In Rome, the Church was not of his founding: it was already in existence and in a flourishing condition. He is consequently obliged to invite himself to Rome and to appeal for their support on the general grounds of Christian duty and charity. The delicacy of the situation, as it presented itself to S. Paul, is marked by the character of the section in which he makes the appeal (Romans 15:14-29), where the eagerness of the Apostle of the Gentiles, the confidence of the Christian appealing to Christians for help in their highest work, and the sensitive courtesy of one who will not offer himself to any but the most willing hosts, combine to form an exquisite picture of the mind of S. Paul.

It would appear that a step in preparation for this visit had already been taken. Aquila and Priscilla (or as they are here named Prisca and Aquila, Romans 16:3) had been at Ephesus (Acts 18:18); they had been left there by S. Paul on his first passing visit, no doubt to prepare the way for that longer stay which he then intended and afterwards carried out (Acts 18:19; Acts 18:21; Acts 18:26). No doubt S. Paul found them there on his return, and they shared his missionary labours in Ephesus and the province of Asia. But now, as he writes, they are at Rome. It is reasonable to conclude that when, at Ephesus, the plan of a visit to Rome was definitely formed (Acts 19:21), it was also decided that these two faithful companions and fellow workers should return to that city, to which at any rate Prisca probably belonged, prepare the way for S. Paul’s own visit, and send him information as to the state of the Church there. It is perhaps even allowable to conjecture that, if c. Romans 16:3-16 belongs to the Epistle, the numerous greetings, involving so much detailed knowledge of the Christians at Rome, may have been occasioned by a letter or letters received from them.

The immediate occasion, then, of the letter is S. Paul’s desire to enlist the sympathy and assistance of the Roman Church for his contemplated mission to Spain. And the form which the letter takes is primarily dictated by the same desire. He could not appeal to the Roman Christians, as he could to Churches of his own converts, to promote and aid his preaching of the Gospel in an untouched land, without putting before them expressly the character of the Gospel which he preached. No doubt some account of this, but hardly a full or clear account, had reached Rome. No doubt in these latter days they had learnt more of it from Aquila and Priscilla. But the Apostle needs full and intelligent and wholehearted support: and consequently he lays before the Romans the fullest statement, which we have, of the Gospel as he was wont to present it for the conversion of Gentiles. He is determined that they shall thoroughly understand his position before they pledge their support. There were, as we shall see, other circumstances and influences which led to this systematic exposition of his theme, or rather dictated the terms in which it should be made. But the simple and sufficient explanation of his choice of the Roman Church to be the recipients of such a statement is to be found in the reason he had for writing to that Church at all. It is eminently characteristic of S. Paul’s method that the needs of a particular occasion should have given rise to this elaborate and profound exposition of some of the fundamental elements of Christian truth. And it is of the highest importance both for the understanding of the Epistle itself, alike of what it includes and of what it omits, and for estimating its relation to his other Epistles, that we should constantly bear in mind the particular occasion from which it sprang.

So far we have been considering the explicit indications, which this Epistle itself affords, of the immediate purpose with which it was written. We must now examine, rather more widely the circumstances in which S. Paul came to write it.

The winter sojourn at Corinth marks the close of an extraordinarily interesting epoch in S. Paul’s work. For some eight years he had been engaged in the evangelisation of Asia Minor, Macedonia and Achaia: and he had now completed that vast work (Romans 15:19). He had planted the Gospel in the principal towns of each province of the Roman Empire, which lay in the path between Jerusalem and Rome: and from these towns he, either in person or by his assistants, had evangelised the surrounding countries. He had spent a considerable time in revisiting and confirming all the Churches of his foundation in Galatia, Macedonia and Achaia; in the province of Asia, he had spent nearly three years in founding and building up Churches. Throughout these labours he had been careful to keep in touch with the Church in Jerusalem: after his first mission, as an apostle of the Church in Antioch (Acts 13:1-3), warned perhaps by the difficulties which arose in Antioch on his return from that mission, he had made a practice of visiting Jerusalem before each new effort. He has now in his company at Corinth representatives of many, perhaps of all these Churches (Romans 16:16 and Acts 20:4 with Romans 16:16): and his immediate object in returning to Jerusalem again is to carry thither, in company with their representatives, the charitable contributions of the Gentile Churches for the poor Christians in that place. The high importance of this object, in his eyes, is emphasised by the two facts, that for it he delays his cherished project of going to Rome and Spain, and that he persists in his determination in spite of actual perils incurred, and dangers clearly foreseen. These facts bring out the supreme importance to him of the two sides of his missionary work, the first, the evangelisation of Gentiles, the second, the building up of one Church in which Jew and Gentile should be closely knit, by bonds of brotherhood, in the new Israel springing from the old stock. Anxious, as each and all of his Epistles show him to have been, to consolidate unity within each several community by insisting on all the qualities which marked the Christian brotherhood based on love, he was no less anxious, as is shown by his consistent policy, to consolidate into one spiritual whole all the brethren, of whatever stock or religion, throughout the world. His ideal of the Christian Church was embodied in the conception of the new Israel, sprung from the old stock, and fulfilling, with a wider and deeper interpretation than Jews had discovered, the prophetic hope of the inclusion of the Gentiles, all members of one body and owning allegiance to one Lord by one faith. The composition of the Epistle to the Romans finds him at the climax of this endeavour. It consequently involves an exposition of this idea with a view to enlist their sympathetic support.

The actual form, which the exposition, at least in great part, takes, was influenced by the experiences he had gone through in his apostolic work. From the very beginning of his ministry (Acts 9:23; Acts 9:29) he had been met by the uncompromising opposition of Jews, an opposition which greeted all efforts to preach Jesus as the Messiah. But with the development of work among the Gentiles, he had to face a growing and ultimately even more bitter antagonism within the Christian Church itself. The battle raged not about the admission of Gentiles. That formed one strain in the prophetic hope, and would appear to have been settled by S. Peter’s action in regard to Cornelius. S. Paul’s action raised the question of the conditions on which Gentiles were to be admitted, and of their status when admitted. The solution was no doubt already involved in S. Peter’s action: but that left abundant room for differences of interpretation and reserves. Such differences and reserves S. Paul challenged directly by his assertion that faith in GOD as revealed in the one Lord Jesus Christ was the sole requisite for baptism, the sole condition of acceptance, and by his consequent denial that the Jewish law, the supreme instrument of salvation in the eyes of Jews, had now any further obligation, as of right, upon Christians. The position thus asserted exposed him to the unflinching attacks of a class of Judaizing Christians in every place in which he preached, growing in strength in proportion to the success of his preaching and the development of the Churches which he founded. The controversy takes shape for us in the Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) and the circumstances which led up to it. The Epistle to the Galatians shows it in its most explicit and critical stage. The battle raged throughout the period of what is called the third missionary journey. In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians we have clear indications that, as a controversy within the Church, it was approaching its conclusion. This is abundantly clear if we take the view that that Epistle is composite, and that cc. 10–13 are a fragment of an Epistle preceding cc. 1–9. But even if the Epistle was written as it stands, it clearly marks the closing of the fight, though the apprehensions and passions which it had called forth are still in vigorous activity. The victory has been won by S. Paul, on the main principle involved and on the important deductions. There remained the last resort of the defeated and embittered party, the personal attack on the probity and character of the champion of their antagonists. But that, full of peril as it was to his person, was in effect an acknowledgment of defeat.

The influence of this experience upon the Epistle to the Romans is seen in the closely reasoned exposition of the relation of faith and law, and of grace and law (cc. 1–8): and more obviously, though not more truly, in the elaborate attempt to grapple with the difficulties which Israel’s official rejection of the Gospel involved for a Christian who claimed the inheritance of Israel (cc. 9–11). But it is of the utmost importance to notice the positive and essentially uncontroversial character of the treatment; and the calm confidence of tone throughout confirms the conclusion that in S. Paul’s view the battle had been won, and it remained only to state the positive truths which had been involved and successfully defended. No doubt this temper was largely the result of the reception of his letter to the Galatian Churches and his own reception at Corinth.

In saying this, we do not ignore the signs which the Epistle itself contains of the seriousness and perils of the controversy. There is one, but only one, reference to danger threatening the unity of the Church (Romans 16:17-20). There is one, but only one, indication of perils threatening his own person (Romans 15:30-32). Both these references are plain and urgent enough to show that the dangers were real. But they threaten, not as before, from the inside and even the very heart of the Church, but as from external foes who may at any time gain a lodgment within, but at present have none. The whole tone of the Epistle indicates that the writer was in comparatively calm waters. He can review the struggles and trials of the last few years, not as one who is in the thick of the fight, but as one who is gathering the fruits of long toil, of a victory hard fought and hard won, both on the arena of his own soul’s experience and in the field of the propagation of the Gospel.


So far, then, we have seen that his intention of carrying out missionary work in Spain is the immediate occasion of his writing to the Romans an account of the Gospel which he carried to unconverted Gentiles; and the experiences of the work, which he had already carried through, dictate the character of presentation. And it might seem sufficient to stop here. But it has been argued with great force and persuasiveness by Sir William Ramsay, and the position has been illustrated by a very wide examination of contemporary conditions, that S. Paul was influenced, more deeply than had been realised, by his position as a Roman citizen, among the Jews of the Dispersion at Tarsus; that his realisation of the vast unity of the Roman Empire led him to conceive of the Christian Church as providing a religious bond for its component parts; and that his letter and visit to Rome gained a supreme importance in his eyes from these conceptions. Are we, then, to add this idea of imperial statesmanship to the influences which we have already seen to be operative at this stage of S. Paul’s activity?

It is certainly an established fact that S. Paul’s plan in his missionary work was to seize upon great centres of Roman administration in the provinces, and to make them the centres from which to propagate the Gospel. Thessalonica, Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus were the principal places which he took for his headquarters in the period of his independent activity. And Rome itself became a special object, when his work in these places was drawing towards completion. But the choice of such centres would be quite consistent with a wise consideration of the most effective means of evangelising the part of the world which lay readiest to his hand, and would not necessarily involve such a conception as is attributed to him. It is true, of course, that much tradition, both among Jew and Gentile, favoured a tribal or national embodiment of religious ideas. But among the Jews there is considerable evidence of a wider conception. And, among Gentiles, the Stoic disregard of all such distinctions was already influencing the thought and practice of the contemporary world. No doubt, the obvious indications of the attempt to establish an imperial religion, in the worship of Rome and the Emperor already fostered in the provinces, and in particular in the province of Asia, would readily suggest to an observant mind the possibility that Christianity might supply the place of an imperial cult. To us looking back upon the historical development, and reading the end achieved under Constantine into the beginnings laid down by S. Paul, it seems all but inevitable that S. Paul must have had some thought of the possibility of such a development. But the deduction is not, as a matter of fact, inevitable. While it is impossible to disprove it, it is still safe to affirm that the evidence for it is all secondary and consists of deductions from the circumstances of his time and position rather than from any clear hint to be found in his writings. If we look to the latter for evidence of the wider conceptions under which he acted we shall find these to be such as are not favourable to the presence of the imperial idea. We may take two illustrations. It is fundamental to S. Paul’s conception of the Gospel that it overleaps all distinctions of place, class, nationality and religion. The natural unity of mankind in its most comprehensive sense is insisted upon as the anticipation and even basis of the spiritual re-union in Christ. It is significant in this connexion that while S. Paul does recognise the family, as forming what we may call a multi-personal unit in the inclusive organism of the Christian body, he uses no similar language about political organisations. Illustrations are indeed taken from city life, but they are definitely metaphorical. He may consistently have regarded the evangelisation of the various parts of the Roman Empire as a stage in and a basis for the wider evangelisation of the world; but of the organisation of an imperial Church there is no hint. Indeed it would appear that any organisation was beyond S. Paul’s view, except such simple arrangements as would provide for the internal administration of the locally separated groups of Christians and the intercommunion of the several groups. And we may see the reason for this in a second fundamental conception, which also gives ground for hesitating to attribute to S. Paul the imperial conception. In all his teaching, as we have it, it seems clear that the near return of the Lord was a constant, almost a dominating, element. The belief gave energy and fire to all he said or did that could bear upon the training of character in the individual and in the community, in preparation for that day. But it almost necessarily put out of thought such measures as would prepare the Church for prolonged activity upon earth and equip it for a relation to the powers of earth. Where S. Paul speaks of these relations, he treats them solely as matters for the individual Christian to regulate for himself: he hardly considers the problems that even in this direction would arise; and indeed does little more than develop, and that not far, the Lord’s own saying about rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.

Consequently, we do not think that a case is made out for attributing to S. Paul far-sighted views of the relation of the Church to the Empire. And we do not include any thought of this kind among the influences which led him to write this Epistle.


The evidence which the Epistle affords of the character and conditions of the readers to whom it was addressed may be divided into two classes. The first class is the evidence directly given by particular passages. The second is that which may be deduced from the nature of the topics handled and the method of handling them.

[1] In the first class, which is the more direct, we cite the following passages:

c. Romans 1:6; Romans 1:13; the readers appear here to be definitely included among the Gentiles. They are among the Gentiles to whom S. Paul has received grace and commission; and he feels it necessary to explain that he has hitherto been prevented from preaching among them, as he has preached among the rest of the Gentiles. c. Romans 15:14-21 is the second passage which definitely implies that as they were Gentiles he had a prescriptive right to address them; even though, as they were a Church not founded by himself, that right was limited by his self-imposed restriction which prevented him working on ground which others had made their own. A third passage which fixes the readers as at least predominantly Gentiles is c. Romans 11:25-32. We may add to these passages, though in a different degree of certainty, c. Romans 6:12-23 : the suggestion there made as to the state of the readers previous to their conversion is more consistent with the language S. Paul habitually uses about Gentiles than with his descriptions of Jews. It might, on the other hand, be felt that c. Romans 7:1 f. and c. Romans 8:3 f. were in no less a degree peculiarly applicable to Christians who had been Jews. But in qualification of this impression, it is clear that S. Paul regarded the whole pre-Christian world as having been in a real sense under dispensation of law (cf. Romans 3:14 f.), the Gentiles under law communicated through the inner witness of conscience, the Jews having in addition to this the positive revelation of GOD’s will in the covenant law. Both these passages in reality apply to the previous experience of all Christians: they take their several colours from the dominant experience of each class. On Romans 4:1 see the notes ad lo[7].

The conclusion to be drawn from these passages is that the Christians in Rome were a composite body, in which Gentiles formed the great majority; and it is to them that the letter is primarily addressed.

[2] How far does the second class of evidence bear out this conclusion? We have already seen that the circumstances of the Epistle and its object were the primary influence in dictating the topics. But those circumstances were independent, to a large extent, of the Church in Rome; it had its influence chiefly so far as S. Paul considered its members fit and suitable to receive this presentation of his Gospel. But that again was the result of their position at the centre of the Empire and the assistance they could afford him in his work in Spain. Consequently we cannot expect to learn much about that Church from the Epistle itself; the less so, because S. Paul’s acquaintance with them as a body was entirely at second hand. Thus in cc. 1–11 the topics seem to be exclusively chosen with a view to making clear the principles of this Gospel and the methods of his preaching. In cc. 12–15, on the other hand, where he deals with the application of the Gospel to conduct, we might expect to find more of specific bearing upon the conditions in Rome. But here too the main themes are such as might have been addressed to any progressive body of Christians. Two sections, perhaps, offer some special light. [1] In c. Romans 13:1-9 S. Paul deals, at greater length than elsewhere, with the relation of Christians to the civil power; and this may have been due to special conditions which had arisen at Rome (see below); though there is little in the treatment, except its explicitness, to tell us what those conditions were. [2] Again, in cc. 14–15:13 we have a discussion of the duties of the strong and the weak, as regards certain external practices and observances. Both the tone and the topics of the discussion are inconsistent with the supposition that S. Paul was combating any definite Judaistic propaganda at Rome. They rather point to the common danger of laying too much stress on external observances; and, in the particular instance of food, to some general form of asceticism which appears to have been a widespread characteristic of the higher religious feeling of the times, among Gentiles, perhaps, even more than among Jews. The contrast with the Epistle to the Galatians, where S. Paul uses so much of the principles, which he expounds in this Epistle, to combat a decided and powerful Judaistic propaganda, endorses this conclusion.

It might, at first sight, appear that the large use of the Old Testament and the familiarity with those Scriptures, which he throughout assumes in his readers, afford strong ground for thinking that the majority at least were Jews. But this conclusion is countered by the observation that all the evidence points to the fact that, at least in S. Paul’s work, the nucleus of every Gentile Church was found in those Gentiles who had been in the habit of attending the synagogue: and that we find, as a consequence of this, that the Old Testament was familiar to, and indeed was the Bible of the early Churches, even when they were certainly composed in the main of Gentiles, as was the case at Corinth. It is a significant confirmation of this conclusion, that our New Testament Scriptures seem to have begun to acquire a canonical character from their association with the Old Testament Scriptures in the public readings in the congregation.

We conclude then on this line of evidence, as on the former, that the Church in Rome was at this time predominantly, though by no means exclusively, Gentile.


If we ask, further, what evidence we have as to the founding and development of the Church in Rome at this early period, we find little material for anything but reasonable conjecture. Perhaps the most important evidence is to be drawn from S. Paul’s own attitude to this Church as expressed, in particular, in c. Romans 15:14-30. A careful reading of that passage shows that the writer has a sensitive delicacy in approaching the Roman Christians and as it were inviting himself to visit them and to preach among them. He lays emphatic stress on the help and advantage he hopes to gain from intercourse with them, his long cherished desire to visit them, his confidence in their progress and competence in all Christian feeling and practice; he feels indeed that he has something to contribute to them (Romans 15:15); but he makes much more of the mutual advantage to be gained by the visit (cf. Romans 1:11-12), and on the especial support he hopes to gain for his mission to Spain. This manner of approaching a Church is peculiar to this Epistle, though there is in some degree a parallel in the Epistle to the Colossians, to whom again he had not himself preached, in the care he takes to explain his deep interest in them (Colossians 1:9; Colossians 2:1 f.). The key to this attitude is no doubt given by the principle which he refers to in Colossians 2:20. The foundation of the Church in Rome has been laid by others; and he will by all means avoid the appearance of trenching upon the sphere of others.

Who those others were, we have no direct evidence to show. The tradition of a visit of S. Peter at this early period has small historic foundation. And although the argument from silence is precarious, it is in the highest degree improbable, considering the whole tone of the passage we have just referred to, that S. Paul would have abstained from all allusion to S. Peter, if he had indeed been in any sense the founder of the Roman Church.

The only passages in the Acts that throw any light upon the subject are Acts 2:10 and Acts 18:2. In the first passage, among the foreign Jews staying at Jerusalem at Pentecost are mentioned οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες Ῥωμαῖοι, Ἰουδαῖοί τε καὶ προσήλυτοι. The note is of course natural; it would be natural, that is to say, that Jews from Rome should be present on this occasion. But the special mention of Jews from that particular city and the definite description of them as temporarily residing in Jerusalem and including ‘Jews and proselytes’ may be a hint, such as S. Luke sometimes gives, of special importance attached by him to their presence and to the presence of both classes. It is a reasonable conjecture that some of these ‘Jews and proselytes’ would carry back to Rome news of the events of Pentecost and the account of what led up to them, and would at least prepare the way for the reception of the Gospel, both among Jews and among those Gentiles who had more or less attached themselves to the synagogues in Rome.

In the second passage (Acts 18:2) we are told that S. Paul, on his arrival at Corinth, ‘found a certain Jew by name Aquila, a native of Pontus by race, lately come from Italy, and Priscilla his wife, because Claudius had ordered that all the Jews should depart from Rome,’ and that ‘he at once joined them, and because he was of the same craft continued to live with them, and they plied their trade’ of tent-making. The connexion with Aquila and Priscilla which S. Paul here formed is evidently of high importance in the writer’s view. This appears both from the full description of these persons and the statement of their reason for being in Corinth. But with the reserve, which so often tantalises us in the Acts, he omits to tell us whether Aquila and Priscilla were already Christians. It seems however to be implied that they were. S. Paul lived with them throughout his stay in Corinth: for the change mentioned in Acts 18:7 refers only to his place of preaching: from which it would appear that they were either already Christians or were converted by S. Paul. But we should expect to have been told if the latter were the case (cf. Acts 18:8). There is moreover another slight indication, pointing in the same direction, in the precise words ‘all the Jews’ (πάντας τοὺς Ἰουδαίους). The ‘all’ is not required, if the object is merely to refer to Claudius’ decree of expulsion against the Jews. It is in point, if S. Luke wishes to indicate that the decree included both Christian and non-Christian Jews. It would explain why Aquila and Priscilla were expelled though they were Christians.

This leads us to consider the one piece of relevant information, which we derive from Suetonius. Suetonius (Claud. c. 25) tells us, ‘Judaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit.’ It is agreed that Suetonius and S. Luke are referring to the same incident, to be dated A.D. 49 or 50. Suetonius gives us the reason for the decree. There had been constant disturbances among the Jews at the instigation of one Chrestus. It is probable that Chrestus is a vulgar rendering of Christus: and that the cause of the disturbances was either some general excitement in connexion with Messianic expectation, or, as a consideration of all the circumstances makes more probable, dissensions which arose from the preaching of the Gospel, such as are recorded at Corinth (Acts 18:12 f.). If we may suppose that events followed something of the same course at Rome and Corinth; that in Rome also the Jews tried to suppress the growing movement by appeal to the civil authorities, and, on their refusal to interfere, took the law into their own hands, we get a natural explanation of the violent disturbances which prompted the decree. The civil authorities, ‘caring for none of these things,’ would visit their wrath indiscriminately upon both parties to the quarrel. In this case we may conjecture that Aquila and Priscilla were among the Christian Jews expelled from Rome. And we should further conclude that by the date of the decree the number of Christians was already considerable enough to make these disturbances serious; and, moreover, that the character of the Gospel preached was such as to arouse the bitter opposition of Jews who remained impervious to its call, that is to say, that it appealed to and made great way among Gentiles. This does not imply that it was specifically Pauline in character, but is consistent with the conclusion we have already arrived at that the Church was predominantly Gentile. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the Church at Rome took its beginnings first from the reports brought from Jerusalem after Pentecost and afterwards from the preaching of the Gospel by returned pilgrims on later occasions. It is even possible that Aquila may himself have been one of these. It is tempting to search c. 16 for other hints. The remarkable description of Mary (Acts 18:6 ἥτις πολλὰ ἐκοπίασεν εἰς ὑμᾶς) may point to a part taken by her in this early stage: and the still more remarkable description of Andronicus and Junias may possibly imply that they were among those who had brought the Gospel to Rome and so were distinguished among the Apostles (Acts 18:7 ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις). If that was so, we should have to find among the original evangelists not only returning pilgrims, but Jews from the East travelling for purposes of business, or even for the definite purpose of propagating the Gospel.

Whatever was the origin of the Church, it had by the date of this Epistle clearly become numerous and important. Its development was of a sufficiently substantial character to make S. Paul feel that its support would be not only desirable but in a high degree advantageous to him in his contemplated work in Spain. Of its constitution we can learn little. It seems to have included a number of groups, probably distinguished by the different houses to which they gathered for worship, instruction and mutual society (Romans 16:5; Romans 16:14-15), or as forming subsections of social groups in which they were already classified (Romans 16:10-11). By what organisation these various groups were held together there is no evidence. The common address of the Epistle implies that there was such an organisation; and the analogy of other churches and the natural requirements of the situation point to the same conclusion. But in the absence of definite statement, we cannot be more precise. As to the classes of persons who were included, we gather from c. 16. that there were both Jews and Greeks, freemen, and, apparently in large proportion, slaves. It would be indeed natural that the Gospel should spread most freely among the foreigners from Greece and the East, who were resident in Rome in large numbers, whether for ordinary purposes of business or as attached to the household of wealthy residents. There is nothing to show that the upper class of Romans had yet come within its influence (contrast perhaps 2 Timothy 4:21).


In character the Epistle to the Romans is a true letter. It has the definite personal and occasional elements which mark the letter. It may be almost described as a letter of introduction. The writer introduces himself to the Romans, with a full description of his authority, office and employment. He takes pains to conciliate their sympathies for an object in which he desires to enlist their help. With a characteristic combination of refined delicacy and intense earnestness he claims their attention and interest. He emphasises his own interest in them, by the repeated account of his desire to visit them, and by his explanations of his delay; and he takes the opportunity of the presence in Rome of some first-hand acquaintances to convey a long list of personal greetings. He carefully explains the immediate occasion of his writing, as well as its ultimate purpose, and gives an account of his present circumstances and plans.

This character of the Epistle has been to some extent obscured owing to the fact that it contains the most systematic account, that S. Paul has left us, of some aspects of his preaching: and readers have been led to consider that it is primarily a treatise, for instance, on justification by faith, and that the epistolary character is secondary and even adventitious. The effect of this mis-reading of the work has been twofold. It has led some to regard it as a treatise intended to be circulated among several churches; and to look upon the form in which it has been preserved to us as merely that one in which it was adapted for the Romans. Others have concluded that the main part of the epistolary setting is secondary and not in fact original; that, for instance, the sixteenth chapter has been wrongly added to the body of the treatise, being borrowed from a letter to the Church in Ephesus, not otherwise preserved. As regards the second of these views, it is perhaps enough to say that the epistolary character, as described above, is determined even more by the first and fifteenth chapters, than by the sixteenth; and that these chapters, at least, cannot be detached from the main body of the Epistle except by a process of mutilation. And, as regards the first view, the direct evidence in support of it is of the slightest, and may at the most point to a circulation of the Epistle in an abbreviated form by the Church in Rome itself, some time after it had been received. (See pp. 235 ff.)

But we have still to account for the systematic character of the main body of the letter. For it is this character which differentiates it from all the other Pauline epistles, except the Epistle to the Ephesians. It must then be shown that this character is consistent with that which the letter itself declares to be its direct object. We have already seen that the primary and direct object of the letter was to interest the Romans and to gain their support for a contemplated mission to Spain. With this in view S. Paul wishes to prepare the way for a visit; and Aquila and Priscilla have already preceded him to Rome, probably with the same object. But something more was needed than the establishment of personal relations. A connexion between S. Paul and the Christians in Rome had not hitherto been established. What they knew of each other had hitherto been matter only of hearsay and report. He has probably now received full information from his friends, Aquila and Priscilla, of the state of things in Rome: and he wishes the Roman Church, in its turn, to be as fully informed as possible of his own position and intentions. Consequently, in appealing for their support, he has to explain to them what it is he asks them to support. He wishes to expound to them his conception of the Gospel, as he preaches it to Gentiles, his missionary message. And he does so in a systematic exposition which covers the whole of the Epistle from Romans 1:14 to Romans 15:13.

It is important to lay stress on this missionary character of the aspect of his Gospel which he thus presents. It accounts both for what he includes and what he omits. In the first place, he is not primarily defending his personal action as an apostle of the Gentiles; though that is vindicated by the way. He has done that in the second Epistle to the Corinthians, which may be described as the Apologia pro apostolatu suo. Nor is he expounding his thought of the Church and the developed Christian life: of this subject again many elements are necessarily included, but in subordinate proportions and rather by hints and implications than by express statements. The full exposition of this aspect of his Gospel he gives in the Epistle to the Ephesians. The Epistle to the Romans contains, in contrast with them, the Apologia pro evangelio suo, an explanation of the Gospel committed to him and preached by him for the conversion of the Gentiles. And the explanation is given, not by way of controversy as against opponents, as it is in the Epistle to the Galatians, nor by way of justification of his action in the past as though he was submitting his case to judges, but simply as a full explanation offered to men whose support he hopes to enlist for his future work.

A brief summary of the argument of the systematic portion of the Epistle will illustrate this position.

It is significant that S. Paul begins, as he does in no other epistle, with a quite definite statement of the theme he intends to put before his readers. ‘The Gospel is GOD’s active power for saving men; its one condition in all cases is faith in GOD: and this is so, because GOD’s righteousness, required to be assimilated by man if he is to be saved, is shown in the Gospel, as resulting from man’s faith and leading to faith’ (Romans 1:16-17, see notes). The theme then is that the Gospel is an act of GOD’s power, to enable all mankind to be righteous as GOD is righteous; that the sole condition demanded of man is faith in GOD that this condition, being a common human quality not limited by class or nation, marks the universality of the Gospel.

This theme is then worked out in four main divisions. First, it is shown that the actual state of man, whether Jew or Gentile, is so remote from exhibiting GOD’S righteousness in human life, that the need for the exercise of GOD’S power is manifest: this is supported by a broad view of contemporary conditions, as we may say historically, in cc. 1–5: and by a penetrating analysis of the experience of the single soul, or psychologically, in cc. 6, 7. Concurrently, it is declared that the need is met by the act of GOD in the person and work of Jesus Christ, to be accepted and made his own by man, through faith (Romans 4:21-25, Romans 6:11, Romans 7:25). Secondly, it is shown that GOD’S power acts, in response to faith, by the presence and working of the Holy Spirit, uniting men to each other and to GOD through union with Christ, and producing in them the development of that character which in men corresponds to the righteousness of GOD. The Holy Spirit is GOD’S power in man (c. 8). Thirdly, we have, what is in reality a digression, but a digression naturally occasioned by the course of the argument. In cc. 9, 10, 11 S. Paul attempts to solve, what to him and to others was the most harrowing problem occasioned by the offer of the Gospel to the Gentiles, namely, the position of the great mass of Israel who rejected the very Gospel for which their own history had been the most direct preparation. Fourthly (cc. 12–15:13), it is shown what character the power of the Gospel produces in its operation upon the daily life of men, in the transformation of personal character, in their relations to each other as members of the society of faith, and in their external relations to the societies of the world.

S. Paul, therefore, in this exposition sets before the Romans his view of the Gospel as a moral and spiritual power for the regeneration of human life; he explains and defends the condition postulated for its operation, the range of its action, and its effects in life. The last subject suggests a fuller treatment of the Christian life in the Church: but this is not given here; it is reserved, as a fact, for the Epistle to the Ephesians. It is not given here, because S. Paul’s object, in writing the Epistle, limits his treatment to the purpose of explaining his missionary message.

It may be well here to point out, that the properly occasional character of the Epistle is seen not only in the introductory and concluding portions, where the need of Roman support gives the occasion: but in the treatment of the main subject, in which the occasion of the details is often given by the actual circumstances of S. Paul’s experience and the time or stage at which he was writing. For instance, c. 4 on Abraham’s righteousness is inspired by his desire to show that the Gospel righteousness was essentially of the same nature as the Old Testament righteousness when properly conceived. Again, in cc. 9–11 the consideration of the case of Israel bears directly upon the assumption made throughout that the Christian Church is the true Israel, preserved indeed in a remnant but, all the more for that, prophetically designated as the heir of the promises. This sums up and clinches the long sustained controversy with the Judaisers. Again, in c. 6. the insistence upon the power of the Gospel to inspire and maintain the highest standard of morality is the final answer to the charge which S. Paul had been forced to meet, in his controversy with Jews and Judaisers, that in abolishing law he was destroying the one known influence in favour of a sound morality, and guilty of propagating moral indifference or ἀνομία. And, in the last section, in c. 14, he deals fully, though in general terms, with a practical difficulty which had confronted him at Corinth and no doubt elsewhere, and which he may have been informed of as existing at Rome, the treatment of scrupulous brethren. All these questions were, in different degrees, of immediate interest and importance. Some of them appear to have ceased to be so, not long after the Epistle was written, and they mark, emphatically, its intimate relation to the actual situation in which S. Paul found himself in those three winter months at Corinth.

The following analysis of the contents does not profess to give more than one presentation of the argument of the Epistle. It is constructed on the general supposition involved in the above account of its character.

A. Introduction, Romans 1:1-17.

Romans 1:1-7. Address: (i) The writer’s name, office and commission: the commission is defined by the trust received, the Person from whom, and the Person about and through whom it was received;

(ii) the class and name of the persons addressed;

(iii) the greeting.

Romans 1:8. Thanksgiving, for the widespread report of the faith of the Romans.

Romans 1:9-15. Assertion of the intimate interest the writer has in the readers, his desire to see them, his hope of mutual help, his debt to them in common with others.

Romans 1:16-17. Statement of his theme:

The Gospel which he preaches is GOD’s power to effect salvation for everyone who believes;

for in it is revealed the nature of GOD’s righteousness, both as an attribute of GOD and as His demand from man, and the fact that it follows upon faith, and leads to faith, without distinction of race or privilege; as already indicated in the O.T. Scriptures.

B. First vindication of the theme, drawn from the actual state of mankind: main antithesis πίστις and νόμος.

Romans 1:18 to Romans 4:25. The need of righteousness is universal (Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20) and it is adequately met (Romans 3:21-31) on lines already laid down in O.T. (iv.).

(i) Romans 1:18 to Romans 2:16. It is needed by Gentiles: they are sunk in sin, due to the neglect of knowledge consequent upon want of faith in GOD:

(ii) Romans 2:17 to Romans 3:20. And by Jews; they have admittedly failed in spite of their privileged position, because (Romans 3:1-20) they also have ignored the one condition of attainment.

(iii) Romans 3:21-31. The general failure is met by the revelation of GOD’S righteousness in Christ, through His Death, a propitiative and redemptive act; and by the condition demanded of man, namely, faith in GOD through Christ; one condition for all men corresponding to the fact that there is but one GOD over all.

(iv) Romans 4:1-25. This condition of righteousness is already laid down in the O.T. in the typical case of Abraham.

C. Second vindication of the theme, drawn from a consideration of its ethical bearing and effect: main antithesis χάρις and νόμος.

Romans 5:1 to Romans 7:25. The Gospel reveals a power which can do what it purports to do.

(i) Romans 5:1-11. The power is a new life, given by GOD in love, through the death of Christ, open to faith, dependent upon the life of Christ, and guaranteed by the love of GOD.

(ii) Romans 5:12-21. This power depends upon a living relation of mankind to Christ, analogous to the natural relation of mankind to Adam, and as universal as that is.

(iii) Romans 6:1 to Romans 7:6. It involves the loftiest moral standard because it is

[1] a new life in the risen Christ (Romans 6:1-14);

[2] a service of GOD, not under law, but in Christ (Romans 6:15-23);

[3] a union with Christ, which must bring forth its proper fruits (Romans 7:1-6).

(iv) Romans 7:7-25. It is therefore effective to overcome sin and achieve righteousness in the individual life, as personal experience shows that law could never do.

D. The nature and working of the power thus revealed, Romans 8.

Romans 8:1-11. The power is, in fact, the indwelling Spirit, derived from GOD through Christ, communicating to the believer the life of the risen Christ, and so overcoming in him the death wrought by sin, as GOD overcame in Christ by raising Him from the dead.

Romans 8:12-39. The consequent character and obligations of the Christian life:

(a) It is the life of a son and heir of GOD, involving suffering as the path to glory (as in the case of Jesus) (Romans 8:12-25).

(b) It is inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit and His active cooperation in working out all GOD’S purpose in us and for us (Romans 8:26-30).

(c) It is due to GOD’s exceeding love, an active force manifested in the sacrifice of His Son, in the Son’s own love in His offering, triumph and intercession, as a power of victory from which no imaginable thing can separate those who are His (31–39; note the refrain, Romans 5:11; Romans 5:21, Romans 6:23, Romans 8:11; Romans 8:39).

E. Israel’s rejection of the Gospel (a typical case of man’s rejection of GOD’S grace, and in itself a harrowing problem). Romans 9:1 to Romans 11:36.

Romans 9:1-4. Israel’s rejection of the Gospel is a great grief and incessant pain to S. Paul, and a hard problem in the economy of redemption. But

[1] Romans 9:6-13. GOD’S faithfulness is not impugned by it: for the condition of the promise was not carnal descent but spiritual, and not man’s work but GOD’S selection.

[2] Romans 9:14 to Romans 10:21. GOD’S righteousness is not impugned

(a) because His selection must be righteous because

(i) Romans 9:14-18, it is dependent on His Will which is righteous;

(ii) Romans 9:19-21, it is directed towards the execution of His righteous purposes;

(iii) Romans 9:22-33, it acts in accordance with qualities exhibited.

(b) because His selection is not inconsistent with moral responsibility for

Romans 10:1-4, Israel’s failure was due to neglect of attainable knowledge;

Romans 10:5-15, as is shown by the warnings of Scripture properly interpreted;

Romans 10:16-21, which Israel can be shown to have received. Consequently Israel is himself to blame.

[3] Romans 11:1-36. Israel is still not rejected by GOD for

(i) Romans 11:1-7. A remnant is saved, as in the time of Elijah, κατ' ἐκλογὴν χάριτος.

Romans 11:8-12. The rest are hardened, as Scripture warns, but not with a view to their own ruin, but with a view to the call of the Gentiles and the rousing of Israel.

(ii) Romans 11:13-36. The present condition of Israel and Gentiles.

Romans 11:13-16. The privilege the Gentiles have received is derived from and belongs to Israel.

Romans 11:17-24. The Gentiles may fall away as Israel did, if they fail in the same way.

Romans 11:25-29. The true climax of the call of the Gentiles will be the restoration of Israel; because the gifts and calling of GOD are irrevocable.

(iii) Romans 11:30-36. GOD and man.

Romans 11:30-33. The fundamental fact of His mercy can alone be fully known.

Romans 11:34-36. His wisdom, knowledge and judgments can never be fully fathomed; because they underlie the very origin, process and end of all creation.

F. The power of the Gospel in transforming human life, the subject of exhortation and advice. Romans 12:1 to Romans 15:13.

Romans 12:1-2. (a) The motive—GOD’S compassions are man’s obligations;

(b) the main point is personal service of GOD, involving disregard of the present world, a new character depending on a fresh tone and attitude of mind, a new test of practice, in the revealed Will of GOD

(c) in particular

(i) Romans 12:3-5 The right temper in the social relations of Christians to each other, as one body;

(ii) Romans 12:6-21 the right use of gifts, under the obligation of mutual service in unreserved love;

(iii) Romans 13:1-10 the true attitude to the civil power—the wide interpretation of love as fulfilling all law;

(iv) Romans 13:11-14 all enforced by the urgency of the times, and the bearing of the new character of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(v) Romans 14. A special case of the law of love—treatment of scrupulous brethren.

(a) Romans 14:1-13 a. Judge not.

(b) Romans 14:13-23. Offend not.

(c) Romans 15:1-13. Bear and forbear, after the example of Christ, who bore the burdens of others, and included both Jew and Gentile in the object of His work.

G. Conclusion, Romans 15:14 to Romans 16:27.

[1] Personal explanations.

(i) Romans 15:14-19. The letter was not caused by the needs of the Romans, but by the demands of Paul’s missions to the Gentiles.

(ii) Romans 15:20-22. He has delayed to visit them because (a) he will not build on another’s foundation, (b) he has been engrossed by his proper work.

(iii) Romans 15:23-29. This work now takes him to Spain, and he will visit them on the way, hoping for their support.

(iv) Romans 15:30-33. He entreats their prayers on behalf of his visit to Jerusalem, for full success in that mission of brotherhood, and hopes to come to them in joy and to gain refreshment.

[2] Romans 16:1-16. Commendations and greetings.

[3] Romans 16:17-20. A final warning against possible dangers to their Christian peace.

[4] Romans 16:21-23. Greetings from his companions.

[5] Romans 16:25-27. A final solemn ascription of glory to GOD for the revelation of the Gospel.


The group of words δικαιοῦν, δικαίωμα, δικαίωσις is so prominent in this Epistle as to mark one of its most definite characters. δικαίωσις is found only here in N.T. (Romans 4:25, Romans 5:18): δικαίωμα occurs five times to an equal number in the rest of the N.T. (Lk., Heb., Rev.); δικαιοῦν occurs fourteen times, and eight times in Galatians, to sixteen times in the rest of the N.T. Two of the latter occurrences are in Acts (Acts 13:39) in a speech attributed to S. Paul. The only document, outside the Gospels, Acts and Pauline Epistles, in which the word occurs is James (James 2:21; James 2:24-25).

The meaning of δικαιοῦν is to ‘pronounce righteous.’ This is the universal use, to which the only known exception in LX[8]. and N.T. is Isaiah 52:14 ff., where the context makes it necessary to interpret it to mean ‘to make righteous.’ The form of the verb (-οω) allows the latter meaning: but use, always a safer guide than etymology, is decisive as to its actual meaning. In this use, this verb is on the same level with other verbs formed from other adjectives implying moral qualities (ἀξιόω, ὁσιόω): and the explanation usually given of the peculiar use in these cases is, that moral change cannot be effected from without; only a declaration of the state can be made. This reasoning, however, cannot be pressed, when the agency of GOD is in question, and the effect of His action on human character. Consequently, the meaning of the word in S. Paul must be got directly from evidence of his use of it.

There is no question that in the Gospels the meaning ‘to declare righteous’ is alone found. The same meaning must be given to 1 Timothy 3:16. In James 2:21-25 the use is closely parallel to that of the Romans: and 1 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:7 are clearly connected with the use in the Romans, although the expression is not quite so explicit. In Acts 13:39 we have a distinct anticipation of the argument of this Epistle, if the words were actually spoken by S. Paul: if they are put into his mouth by S. Luke, then we have an echo. Consequently, to arrive at the meaning in S. Paul we must examine the use in Romans and Galatians: remembering that the universal use which he had before him gave the meaning ‘to declare righteous.’

1. The sense ‘to declare righteous’ is clearly contained in the following passages where the context involves the thought of judgment:

Romans 2:13. οἱ ποιηταὶ νόμου δικαιωθήσονται following Romans 2:12 διὰ νόμου κριθήσονται and leading to Romans 2:16 κρίνει (κρινεῖ) ὁ θεὸς.

Romans 3:20. οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σὰρξ after ὑπόδικος γένηται.

Romans 8:33. θεὸς ὁ δικαιῶν τίς ὁ κατακρινῶν; this carries with it ἐδικαίωσεν, Romans 8:30.

2. δικαιοῦν, δικαιοῦσθαι are paraphrased by λογίζεσθαι εἰς δικαιοσύνην, and the like, in Romans 4:2-3; Romans 4:5; Romans 4:8-9; Romans 4:11. Cf. Romans 2:26, Romans 9:8.

3. In other passages, where there is no such explicit interpretation in the context, the sense is settled partly by the precedent of the above-cited passages, partly by the elements in the several contexts; e.g.

Romans 3:24. δικαιούμενοι δωρεάν must be interpreted in the same way as δικαιωθήσεται in Romans 3:20; as also δικαιοῦντα in Romans 3:26 and δικαιοῦσθαι alibi, Romans 3:27; Romans 3:30.

Romans 5:1. δικαιωθέντες obviously sums up the argument of the preceding chapter, and the word must have the same sense.

Romans 5:9. The stages ἁμαρτωλῶνδικαιωθέντες νῦνσωθησόμεθα are interpreted by the parallel ἐχθροὶκατηλλάγημενσωθησόμεθα: the aorists κατηλλάγημεν, δικαιώθεντες both point to the act of GOD which is the starting-point of the process described in σωθησόμεθα. That act as expressed by δικαιοῦν is His declaration of righteousness.

Romans 6:7. ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν δεδικαίωται ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας. The same meaning is quite clearly necessary.

It is clear that the only sense we can attribute to this word in the Romans is ‘to declare righteous.’ It is significant that the word occurs only in the first six chapters, in which S. Paul is analysing the elements of the Christian state, and in Romans 8:30; Romans 8:33 where he sums up the results of his analysis. In cc. 12 ff., where he is dealing directly with the development of the Christian character, it does not occur.

It is unnecessary to give a detailed examination of the use in Galatians, as it stands on all fours with that of the Romans. The difference between the Epistles is that the fundamental fact of justification by faith is rather asserted than elaborately argued in the Galatians. The full argument is reserved for the Romans. The use of the word in Galatians agrees with the use in Romans.

It is further to be observed that when the verb is used in the passive, the preposition which marks the agency of GOD is παρὰ, not ὑπό (Romans 2:13; Galatians 3:11), indicating rather the judge than the effective agent; the only other form used is ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ (Romans 3:20). Once we have τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι (Romans 3:24); it is an act of grace. Cf. κατὰ χάριν, Romans 4:4.

4. We pass now to the description of the state of man which requires this declaration of righteousness, and the conditions on which it is made. The state is the universal state of sin, shown to characterise both Gentiles and Jews: it is shown that the knowledge of GOD’S will, whether elementary in Gentiles or even consummate in Jews, had not been sufficient to enable man to do the Will: that as a matter of fact man had failed in his efforts to do the Will, and by this road had not reached a state on which he could claim a verdict of righteousness. It is assumed that this account of man’s efforts is exhaustive, and shows that this way of man’s ‘works’ is a blind alley. The emergency requires divine intervention. This way is found in Jesus Christ, the Son of GOD, who by His Death, as interpreted by His Resurrection, at once vindicated the righteousness of GOD (Romans 3:24 f.; see comm.) and offered Himself as man, an acceptable sacrifice to GOD. In Him as man once for all GOD declares man (human nature) righteous. The question then arises how are men, as several persons, to be brought under this verdict of righteousness. And the answer is, only by their being united with Christ, by being actually, not merely potentially, included in His humanity as offered to and accepted by GOD. This inclusion is the purport of baptism (Romans 6:1-11), involving an inner, living union with Christ, and thus a passing from the old life to the new life in Him. In this new life, the man is a new creature; as such he is reconciled to GOD he is under the influence of all the spiritual powers of Christ, who is his life; he is undergoing the process of salvation; he is the subject of the working of GOD’S glory. So far all is the act of GOD, proceeding from His grace, or free giving, the crucial instance of His love.

What is the contribution which man has to make, on his part? If the life is to be his life, it must in some degree from the first involve such a contribution. There must be personal action on his part, unless it is to be a mere matter of absorption into the divine life and action. Yet it was just by the emphasis on the personal action of the man, that Gentile and Jew alike had gone astray. They had hoped to make peace with GOD result from an active pursuit of righteousness, the attempt to do what was right in detail: and they had failed. The stress had been laid inevitably upon acts rather than character, upon external laws rather than upon inner principles; upon the fulfilment of a task rather than upon a personal relation. The right point of view must be sought in some conception, which would at once preserve the personal activity of the man and yet leave the effective action to GOD. And this S. Paul finds in the conception of faith.

The meaning of πίστις in the N.T. is always belief or faith, as a quality of man’s spiritual activity, until in the latest books (Judges 1:3 f., 20, and perhaps, but very doubtfully, in the Pastoral Epistles) it gets the meaning of the contents of faith or the Christian creed. But ‘belief or faith’ itself is used with different degrees of intensity. It may mean simply a belief of a fact: or belief of GOD’S promises: from this latter use, it passes easily to its fuller meaning of belief or trust in GOD as true to His promises; and thus to the full sense, which we find in S. Paul and S. John, of trust in GOD as revealed in Jesus Christ, a trust involving not merely the acceptance of the revelation as true, but the whole-hearted surrender of the person to GOD as so revealed and in all the consequences of the revelation. The kernel of the thought is the active surrender of the whole person, in all its activities, of intellectual assent, of the positive offering of will and action, of unreserved love. It is none of these things separately, but all of them together: it being in fact a concrete and complex act of the personality itself, throwing itself whole, as it were, upon GOD Himself, in the recognition of the worthlessness of all human life apart from GOD and of the will and power of GOD to give human life its true worth. This act of faith involves, that is to say, the element of belief, the element of will and the element of love. And the object of the activity of each of these elements of the person is GOD, believed, loved, and willed.

It follows from this complex character of faith, that it will be found in different degrees of development, and even in varying forms of manifestation. Sometimes the element of belief will be dominant: sometimes belief will be reduced to a minimum, and the deeper elements of will and love, either together or in different degrees of prominence, will form the staple of the act. In the case of Abraham, which S. Paul takes as typical of righteousness before the Gospel, the belief is mainly belief in the trustworthiness and power of GOD: the element of will, unquestioning obedience to and service of GOD, comes to the fore: the element of love, not explicitly mentioned in Romans, is represented in O.T. by the name ‘the friend of GOD.’ And such differences in the proportion in which the elements of faith are found in particular cases, are a matter of common experience. In ‘the woman that was a sinner’ it was for her great love that her sins were forgiven: yet by her acts it is clear that the other elements of faith were present at the back of her action. In the Gospel cases, where faith is the condition and even the measure of the working of Christ’s power in miracle, the element of belief is again prominent, but it is a belief not only in the power but in the character of Jesus, which itself is an indication that the other elements were in a degree present, though in varying degrees, in those who threw themselves upon His mercy. Even where the faith seems to be reduced to the mere element of belief, the personal element in the ground for the belief itself implies in the believer the working of the other elements in their characteristically personal action.

Now S. Paul, while he uses πίστις and πιστεύω freely in their various senses, still when he is using it in correlation with χάρις and in contrast to νόμος and ἔργα, uses the words in this full sense, of the personal act of surrender in all the elements of personality. It involves acceptance of the revelation of GOD in the Person of Jesus Christ: and consequently the object of the act is described both as faith in GOD (Romans 4:5; Romans 4:24; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 3:8) and faith in or of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:22; Philippians 3:9; Philippians 1:29 alibi). It includes belief of the revelation but emphasises the movement of will and love. It consequently determines, as far as the man himself can determine it, the position of man in relation to GOD: and is, for that reason, the occasion or ground of GOD’S declaration of the man’s righteousness. That declaration implies that the man, in the act of faith, is in the right relation to GOD, and already qualified to be the subject of all those spiritual influences which are involved in his living union with GOD in Christ.

If we ask why S. Paul so rigorously isolates this single moment in the man’s experience, and connects with it the bare statement of the declaration of his righteousness, I think the answer is clear. He presses his analysis to this ultimate point, because he wishes to bring out the fundamental contrast of faith and law, as qualifying man for GOD’S approval, His declaration of righteousness. It is only when the conception is thus reduced to its simplest elements, that man’s true part in righteousness and his true method of attaining it can be made clear. The fact is that righteousness as a state is wholly GOD’S work in man; man’s part begins, at any rate in analysis, before that work begins, when by his act of faith he accepts his true relation to GOD, and puts himself into righteousness as a relation. Even in this act of faith, he is not acting in vacuo, he is moved by GOD: yet it is his own act, a complete act of his whole personality; and as such it is the beginning of a course of action, which, although it is GOD’S working in him, is yet his own personal action (Galatians 2:20). But it is only by isolating, in analysis, this original act that the whole consequent process can be seen to be GOD’S action in him, springing from his faith, not consequent upon his works.

If it be said (as by Moberly, Mozley, alibi), that GOD’S declaration of righteousness cannot be ineffective, must involve an imparting of righteousness, that is undoubtedly true in fact. But that truth is not conveyed by the word δικαιοῦν, and the word would seem to be intentionally chosen by S. Paul so as not to convey it; just because S. Paul desires to analyse the relation, which he is asserting, into its elements in order to make its nature clear. Just as the man is considered as expressing himself in faith, before that faith expresses itself in life; so GOD is considered as accepting the faith, as declaring the man righteous, before that declaration takes effect by His Spirit in the man’s life. And yet it is misleading to speak as if it were a case of temporal succession, as if the moment of faith and justification were a stage in experience to be succeeded by another stage. It is only by a process of abstraction that that moment can be conceived at all: as it exists, it is already absorbed in the mutual interaction of the persons whose relation to each other is so analysed. Neither does man’s faith stop at all or exist at all in its bare expression; nor does GOD’S declaration exist as a bare declaration. Yet in order to characterise the state into which this relation brings the man, it is necessary to analyse it into its elements, excluding, in thought, the immediate and necessary results of the combination of those elements.

What is that state? It is the living union of the man in Christ with GOD. There is no moment in the history of that union, in which the power of GOD does not act upon the spirit of the man, however far we go back. But in the ultimate analysis of the state we reach the two elements, man’s faith and GOD’S acceptance: these determine the method in which the union acts: and as long as we realise that this analysis, this separation of the elements, is only a separation in thought, the result of a logical process, we avoid the danger of importing the sense of a ‘fictitious’ arrangement. We may perhaps say that there is a fiction present; but it is a logical fiction, made for the purpose of clear thinking; not an unreal hypothesis made by GOD.

It follows from this that throughout the long process of GOD’S dealing with man in Christ, man’s contribution to the result is solely his faith, in its full sense. The power which originates, supports and develops the new life is throughout the power of GOD, the Spirit working upon and in the man. Consequently not in the most advanced life of the saint, any more than in the first faltering steps of the novice, is there any thought of meritorious works. It is the apprehension, trust and love with which the man embraces what GOD gives in Christ, that is his contribution, his whole contribution to the divine working. But it is just this attitude and act of apprehension, trust and love which calls forth and gives play to and indeed is the full realisation of his own personality; because it is the realisation of the true and most complex and most satisfying relation in which his personality can be developed, his relation to GOD.

For the discussion of this question see S. H., pp. 28 ff.; Moberly, Atonement and Personality, p. 335; J. K. Mozley, Expositor, Dec. 1910; Hort on 1 Peter, p. 81 f. and James ii. 22 (p. 63); Hastings, DB. art. Romans (Robertson); Du Bose, The Gospel according to S. Paul, pp. 69 ff.

10. TEXT

It is unnecessary to enumerate the MSS. and Versions in which this Epistle is found. The reader may be referred to the articles in the Encyclopaedia Biblica (F. C. Burkitt), Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (Nestle, Murray, alibi), Sanday and Headlam (Romans, § 7) and Prof. Lake (The Text of the New Testament). The notation followed in the critical notes is the same as that adopted by Sanday and Headlam.

A selection of passages in which noteworthy variations of text occur is subjoined.


Romans 1:1. Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ WH. txt. Χρ. . WH. margin Tisch. with B Vulg. codd. Arm. Aug. (once) Ambr. Ambrst. and Latin Fathers. The form Χρ. . is confined to the Pauline letters (excl. Hebr.), except Acts 24:24, and increases in relative frequency with time. It is more frequent than . Χρ. in Eph., Phil., Col., and is the dominant form in 1 and 2 Tim. Taking all the epistles it occurs slightly more frequently than . Χρ. (83–77), but this is due mainly to its frequency in 1 and 2 Tim. In the Epistles up to and including Rom. it is decidedly the rarer form (30–56) and probably therefore more likely to be changed by scribes into the other form, than the converse. The difference in significance is slight: in Χρ. . the Χρ. is perhaps rather more definitely a proper name than in . Χρ.; cf. S.H.

Romans 1:7. ἐν Ῥώμῃ om. Gg schol. 47: for this omission cf. Add. Note, pp. 235 f.

Romans 1:16. πρῶτον om. Bbg Tert. marc. 5, 13 [WH.].

Romans 1:32. ποιοῦσινσυνευδοκοῦσιν. WH. Tisch. -οῦντες in each case B and perhaps Clem. Rom. 35. DE Vulg. Orig. lat. and other Latin Fathers had this Greek Text, but showed their doubts of it by adding non intellexerunt (οὐκ ἐνόησαν D). WH. mark the clause as corrupt, as involving an anti-climax. But see note.

Romans 2:2. δὲ WH. txt. γὰρ WH. margin Tisch. The evidence is fairly balanced. The sense is clear for δὲ: and the substitution of γὰρ was probably due to the γὰρ of the preceding clause, i.e. mechanical.

Romans 2:16. ἐν ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ WH. txt. with B alone. ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ᾗ WH. margin A. 73. 93. tol. alibi . ὅτε WH. margin אDEGKL alibi d.e.g. Vg. alibi

Romans 3:9. προεχόμεθα: προκατέχομεν περισσόν D*G 31: Antiochene Fathers, Orig. lat. Ambrst. The variant is a gloss and involves taking τί as the object of προκ. So syrsch ap. Tisch. also omits οὐ πάντως.

Romans 3:28. γάρ. אAD*EFG alibi plur. Latt. Boh. Arm. Orig. lat Ambrst. Aug. Tisch. WH. RV. margin οὖν BCDcKLP alibi plu. Syrr. Chrys. Theodot. R.V. WH. margin The combination for γάρ of אA Boh. with the Western evidence is strong: and internal evidence is in its favour.

Romans 4:1. εὑρηκέναι is found in most MSS. either before Ἀβραὰμ or after ἡμῶν. B 47* alone omit it, and perhaps Chrysostom.

The sense in the context almost demands the omission: and the variation in position of εὑρ. suggests a gloss.

4;19. οὐ ins. before κατενόησεν DEFGKLP. om. Vulg. MSS. Syr. Lat. Orig. lat. Epiph. Ambrst.: a clearly Western reading; the sense is not materially affected.

Romans 5:1. ἔχωμεν has an overwhelming support of MSS. It also makes the best sense (see note ad lo[26]).

[26] ad loc ad locum

Romans 5:3. καυχώμεθα: καυχώμενοι BC Orig. bis alibi ‘a good group’ S.H. The influence of the context is ambiguous, as (Romans 5:2 καυχώμεθα, Romans 5:11 καυχώμενοι): the part. is slightly the more difficult, and perhaps the more characteristic reading.

Romans 5:6. εἴ γε B only WH. txt†: other readings are ἔτι γὰρ (with ἔτι below) Tisch. with most MSS. εἰς τί γὰρ, εἰ γὰρ, ἔτι are other variants. Text makes far the best sense. To account for the variants, H. suggests that εἴπερ was the orig. reading; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 5:1.; Romans 3:30; 2 Thessalonians 1:6.

Romans 5:14. μὴ om. 67 margin and three other cursives. Latin Fathers: Orig. lat. freq. grk once, d. It is not easy to explain καί if the negative is omitted. It looks like a hasty attempt to correct a difficult expression.

Romans 8:2. σε alibi με: om. Arm. perh. Orig. Neither pronoun is quite apt: and WH. app. argue for total omission.

Romans 8:11. διὰ τοῦ ἐνοικ. gen. אACP2 alibi, Boh. Sah. Hard. Arm. Aeth.: Clem. Alex. Cyr. Hier. Chrys. ad 1 Corinthians 15:45, Cyr. Alex.: accus. BDEFGKLP et Vulg. Pesh. Iren. lat. Orig. Did. lat. Chrys. ad loc[31] Tert. Hil. alibi plur. The gen. is thus in the main Alexandrian; the accus. Western. S.H. place the preponderance of textual evidence slightly on the side of gen. The transcriptional evidence would appear to be on the side of the accus. as decidedly the harder reading: especially in view of the Alexandrian tendency to revision.

[31] ad loc. ad locum

Romans 8:24. txt B 47 margin only. RV. WH. τις, τί καὶ ἐλπίζει. T. R. Tisch. WH. margin τί καὶ ὑπομένει א*A 47 margin WH. margin RV. margin

Romans 8:35. χριστοῦ. θεοῦ WH. margin

Romans 9:5. WH. margin σάρκα ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς; see note ad lo[40].

[40] ad loc ad locum

Romans 10:9. τὸ ῥῆμα B 71 Clem. Alex, and Cyril (?) om. rel. ὅτι Κύριος Ἰησοῦς B Boh. Clem. Alex. and Cyril (2ce). Κον Ἰουν rel.

Romans 12:11. τῷ κυρίῳ אABELP alibi Vulg. Syrr. Boh. Gr. Fathers. καιρῷ DFG Latin Fathers, See comm. ad lo[42].

[42] ad loc ad locum

Romans 12:13. ταῖς χρείαις: μνείαις: Western (Gr. Lat.). ‘Some copies known to Theod. Mops.’ WH. who suggest that it is a mere clerical error. The commemoration of martyrs arose as early as the middle of the second century. Cf. Mart. Polyc. xviii. S.H.

Romans 13:3. τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ. Cj. ἀγαθοέργῳ P. Young, Hort (probable). If this is read, then τῷ κακῷ is masc. = τῷ κακοέργῳ, the compound itself being avoided for euphony’s sake. Cf. for a parallel in compound verbs, Moulton, p. 115. This reading certainly gives the best sense.

Romans 14:13. om. πρόσκομμα and , B. Arm. Pesh. Cf. Romans 14:20 and 1 Corinthians 8:9.

Romans 14:19. διώκωμεν CDE Latt. διώκομεν אABFGLPב.

Romans 15:8. γεγενῆσθαι אAELPב. γενέσθαι BCDFG.

Romans 15:19. πνεύματος B. add. θεοῦ אLP etc. Orig. lat. Chrys. etc. ἁγίου ACDFG Boh. Vulg. Arm. Aeth. etc.

Romans 15:31. δωροφορία (for διακονία). ἐν (for εἰς) BDFG.

Romans 15:32. ἐλθὼνσυναναπαύσωμαι, אAL Boh. Arm. Orig. lat. ἔλθωκαὶ συν. Western and later MSS. B has ἔλθω and omits συναναπ.

διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ: Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ B, perh. clerical error for Χρ. Ἰησοῦ Western. Ἰης. Χρ. א* Ambst. txt ACLP Vulg. Syrr. Boh. Arm. Orig. lat. Chrys. Thdt. Lightfoot (Fresh Revn pp. 106 f.) suggests that the orginal had θελήματος alone. But there is no parallel to this use of the anarthrous θέλημα with a prep., and it seems difficult.

Romans 16:20. For the place of the benedictions see Add. Note.


The following list includes the principal books used and referred to in the Introduction and Commentary.

1. Commentaries on the Epistle.

Field, Notes on Translation of the New Testament. Camb. Univ. Press, 1899.

Gifford, Speaker’s Commentary, reprinted, 1886. Giff.

Hort, Prolegomena to Romans and Ephesians. Macmillan & Co. 1895.

Liddon, Explanatory Analysis, 1896. Lid.

Lietzmann, Handbuch zum N.T. ed. H. Lietzmann. Tübingen, 1906.

Lipsius, Hand-Commentar zum N.T. Leipzig, 1893.

Rutherford, Romans translated. Macmillan & Co., 1900.

Sanday and Headlam (International Critical Commentary, 1895). S. H.

Weiss, B., Meyer’s Kommentar: neu bearb. Göttingen, 1891.

Zahn, Commentar zum N.T. Leipzig, 1910.

2. Commentaries on other Epistles are cited sufficiently in the notes.

3. Grammars and Dictionaries.

Blass, Grammar of N.T. Greek, tr. by H. St J. Thackeray. Macmillan, 1898.

Burton, N.T. Moods and Tenses. Chicago, 1897.

Encyclopaedia Biblica, Cheyne and Black. London, 1899.

Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible. Edinburgh, 1898.

Herwerden, Lexicon Graecum suppletorium et dialecticum 1902–1904.

Kuhring, de praepos. Graec. in Chartis Aegyptiis usu. Bonn, 1906.

Mayser, Grammatik der Griechischen Papyri u.s.w. Teubner, 1906.

Moulton, J. H. Grammar of N.T. Greek. Vol. 1. Prolegomena. Edinburgh, 1906.

Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the N.T. (Grimm). Edinburgh, 1890.

Thackeray, Grammar of the O.T. in Greek. Vol. 1. Camb. Univ. Press, 1909.

Winer-Moulton, Grammar of N.T. Greek. Edinburgh, 1882.

4. Linguistic.

Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionun Graecarum. Leipzig, 1883.

Milligan, Selections from the Greek Papyri. Camb. Univ. Press, 1910.

Nägeli, Der Wortschätz des Apostels Paulus. Goettingen, 1905.

Witkowski, Epistulae Privatae Graecae. Teubner, 1907.

5. Other books of reference.

Clemen, Religionsgeschichtliche Erklärung des N.T. (Giessen, 1909).

Dalman, The Words of Jesus. E.T. Edinburgh, 1902.

Davidson, Theology of O.T. Edinburgh, 1904.

Deissmann, Bibel Studien and Neue B. S. Marburg, 1895, 1897.

Dubose, The Gospel according to S. Paul. Longmans, Green & Co., 1907.

Ewald, Devocis Συνειδήσεως … vi ac potestate. Leipzig, 1883.

Hart, Ecclesiasticus. Camb. Univ. Press, 1909.

Hort, The Christian Ecclesia. Macmillan & Co., 1897.

Judaistic Christianity. Macmillan & Co., 1894.

Journal of Theological Studies. Oxford University Press.

Knowling, Witness of the Epistles. Longmans, Green & Co., 1892.

Lake, The Earlier Epistles of S. Paul. Rivingtons, 1911.

Lightfoot, On a fresh Revision of the English N.T. Macmillan & Co., 1891. Biblical Essays. Macmillan & Co., 1893. Essays on Supernatural Religion. Macmillan & Co., 1889. Apostolic Fathers. Macmillan & Co., 1885–1890.

Mommsen, The Provinces of the Roman Empire. E. T. Bently, 1886.

Ramsay, The Church and the Roman Empire. Hodder & Stoughton, 1894.

Stanton, The Jewish and Christian Messiah. T. & T. Clark, 1886.

Texts and Studies. Camb. Univ. Press.

Weiss, Joh. Theol. Studien D. B. Weiss dargeb. Göttingen, 1897.

Zahn, Einleitung zum N.T. 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1900.


LXX. = the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament; ad loc. = ad locum; al. = alibi; cf. = confer; cft. = confert; ct. = contrast; ib. = ibidem; l.c. = locus citatus; mg. = margin; op. cit. = opus citatum; s.v. = sub voce; vb. = verb; || = parallel to; )( = opposed to.

Abbreviated names of authors and books will be plain if the list of books (pp. xlv. ff.) is consulted.


A. συνείδησις, c. Romans 2:15

The word is found only in the Pauline writings (Romans , 1 and 2 Corinthians , 1 and 2 Tim., Tit., 1 Pet., Heb.) except [John 8:9], and Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16 (speeches of S. Paul). The verb (σύνοιδα) only in 1 Corinthians 4:4. In the LXX[341] it occurs only in Wisdom of Solomon 17:11 (R.V. conscience), Ecclesiastes 10:20 (R.V. heart), and perhaps Sirach 42:18 (R.V. knowledge). The verb, Job 27:6; Leviticus 5:1; 1 Maccabees 4:21; 2 Maccabees 4:41. The two passages which make clear the use of the word are Job l.c[342], οὐ σύνοιδα ἐμαυτῷ ἄτοπα πράξας, and Wisdom l.c[343], πονηρίαἀεὶ προσείληφεν τὰ χαλεπὰ συνεχομένη τῇ συνειδήσει. In both these passages it is the state of mind which is conscious of certain actions in their moral aspects.

The customary meaning of the substantive follows the use of the verb. σύνοιδά τινί τι = to be privy to the action of another; σύνοιδα ἐμαυτῷ τι or τι πράξας = to be privy to an action or thought of my own; but, as a man in general cannot help being privy to his own thoughts and actions, the phrase is used with the special meaning of the recognition or feeling of the character, and especially the moral character, of one’s own thoughts or actions. So we get first the simple meaning, the feeling or knowledge that we have done or thought certain things imputed to us, and, secondly, the more definite meaning, the feeling or knowledge that such thoughts or actions are right or wrong. This feeling can be appealed to as a witness to character, either by the man himself appealing to his self-consciousness in support of a statement, or by others appealing to the man’s own consciousness of himself. So Wisdom of Solomon 17:11, R.V. “Wickedness, condemned by a witness within, is a coward thing, and being pressed hard by conscience (τῃ συνειδήσει) always forecasts the worst lot,” the consciousness of being wrong makes a coward of the man. Here the conscience or consciousness is an incorruptible witness before whose evidence the man trembles. Cf. Polyb. XVIII. 26.13, οὐδεὶς οὔτως μάρτυς ἐστὶ φοβερὸς οὔτε κατήγορος δεινὸς ὡς ἡ σύνεσις ἡ ἐγκατοικοῦσα ταῖς ἑκάστων ψυχαῖς, where the last phrase = ἡ συνείδησις. It is rather as a witness than as a judge that ἡ συνείδησις is regarded in ordinary Greek use: and it is only as a witness that it is appealed to in N. T.

In Romans the word occurs three times, Romans 2:15, Romans 9:1, Romans 13:5. In Romans 2:15 and Romans 9:1 it is used of a man’s knowledge of himself, his motives and thoughts, called as a witness to his true character. In Romans 2:15 the Gentiles’ self-consciousness, knowledge of their own minds, witnesses to their possession, in a sense, of law, and so confirms the evidence of their acts. In Romans 9 :1 S. Paul’s knowledge of himself, as controlled by the ‘Holy Spirit, witnesses to the pain and distress he feels for Israel, and confirms the witness of the assertion which he makes as in Christ. In Romans 13:5 there is no idea of witness, but the consciousness of their own motives and feelings as shown in the fact that they willingly pay tribute, is appealed to as an argument for obedience.

Closely parallel to Romans 9:1 is 2 Corinthians 1:12, where the consciousness of motive is alleged as a witness to the truth of his confident assertion.

With Romans 13:5 may be grouped the passages in which an epithet is attached (Acts 23:1, ἀγαθή, Acts 24:16, ἀπρόσκοπος; 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:19, 1 Peter 3:16; 1 Peter 3:21, ἀγαθή; 1 Timothy 3:9, 2 Timothy 1:3, καθαρά. Cf. Hebrews 9:14, καθαριεῖ τὴν συνείδησιν; Hebrews 13:18, καλή; Hebrews 10:22, πονηρά). In all these passages it is clear that the word indicates the self-consciousness which includes good or bad contents, as matter of feeling and experience, as simply a matter of self-knowledge, without any direct thought of judgment. So 1 Peter 2:19, διὰ συνείδησιν θεοῦ, a remarkable phrase, seems to mean, owing to a feeling of or about GOD, bringing Him as it were into the field of conscious motive. This feeling or consciousness can be dulled by evil courses (1 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:15). External ordinances leave it untouched (Hebrews 9:9), but it can be cleansed (Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:21-22).

In 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 5:11 the Apostle appeals, for the recognition of his claim, to the conscious experience (συνείδησις) which others have acquired of his character and life, their inner knowledge of him; in this use we have the substantival form of the verbal phrase σύνοιδά τινί τι. And it is possible that we have the same use in 1 Corinthians 10:28-29, where the συνείδησις may = the weak brother’s knowledge of and feeling about the acts of the strong.

In 1 Corinthians 8:7-12 we have the remarkable epithet ἀσθενής, where if we translate συνείδησις as ‘conscience,’ we have the paradox of calling a sensitive conscience weak. We can hardly get a nearer translation here than ‘feelings.’ The man ‘feels’ that to eat εἰδωλόθυτα, is wrong. This ‘feeling’ cannot be justified by reason; it is due to association (τῇ συνηθείᾳ ἕως ἄρτι τοῦ εἰδώλου), and he cannot shake it off: it is called ‘weak,’ because in it the man is not really master of himself. The argument of the passage is directed to gaining from the strong a tender consideration for those who are in this weak state of feeling. It is a pity that the true character of many ‘conscientious objections’ of the present day is obscured by their association with our modern term ‘conscience,’ when they should be really described as συνείδησις ἀσθενής.

On the whole, then, we may say that in the N.T., as in common Greek use, συνείδησις describes rather a state of consciousness, than a faculty or act of judgment: some uses of the word ‘conscience’ correspond to this meaning of συνείδησις; but in more cases than not the meaning will be adequately given by such renderings as ‘consciousness,’ ‘self-knowledge,’ or even simply ‘heart.’

B. ON Romans 5:13

The usual interpretation takes ἄχρι νόμου = till the Mosaic law was given, and understands S. Paul to deny that sin could be imputed in the full sense to those who were ignorant of that law: consequently πάντες ἥμαρτον is regarded as = all men sinned in Adam. It cannot be denied that this interpretation is highly strained; but the extreme complexity of the passage might be taken to excuse that, if two further objections did not arise: [1] By supplying ἐν τῷ Ἀδὰμ with π. . we assume the omission by the writer of words essential to the understanding of the passage; [2] by taking ἄχρι νόμου = until the Mosaic law was given, and making the consequent assumption that sin was not imputed to Gentiles till they were aware of the Mosaic law (for the interpretation must extend so far), we make S. Paul say here that sin could not be imputed to the Gentiles, including Adam and the Patriarchs up to Abraham, because they had no law. But this is in direct contradiction with one main argument of the preceding chapters, and of course with the whole teaching as to the sinful state of Gentiles. I should further urge that for this meaning here the article would be indispensable before νόμου, as there is a specific reference to the Mosaic law as and when given. The interpretation given in the notes involves the difficulty (which I do not minimise) of translating ἄχρι νόμου = so far as there was law. ἄχρι is used frequently of time and place (Acts 20:4, alibi): the gen. expresses generally the point of time or space reached; but sometimes expresses also the interval before that point is reached; cf. ἄχρι καιροῦ, for a season (Luke 4:13; Acts 13:11); ἄχρι ταύτης τῆς ἡμέρας w. perfect (Acts 23:1), ἄχρι τούτου τοῦ λόγου w. imperfect (Acts 22:22). The extension of meaning to = just in the degree that law, so far as there was law and no further, seems justifiable. If this meaning can be taken, then ἀλλὰ ἐβασίλευσεν κ.τ.λ. goes closely with ἁμ. οὐκ ἐλλογᾶται, as an indication that the punishment of sin being in evidence sin itself must have been there. καὶ ἐπὶ κ.τ.λ. brings out the fact that the sin was not on all fours with that of Adam, so making explicit the restriction hinted in ἄχρι νόμου, the unlikeness consisting in the fact that Adam sinned against a positive revealed command, men in general sinned against the internal law of a conscience, enlightened, if only partially. This interpretation is in strict agreement with the view put forward in the early chapters, and does not make S. Paul say anything but what he says explicitly.

C. νόμος

νόμος and ὁ νόμος.

Gifford, Introd. pp. 41–48; S. H. p. 58; Lft, Galatians 2:19; Galatians 4:5; Hort, R. and E. pp. 24, 25.

Two questions have to be answered: [1] what was St Paul’s conception of law? [2] what distinction is made by the presence or absence of the article?

[1] It is obvious that S. Paul’s conception of law was derived primarily from his experience of the law of Moses, with the accretions of Pharisaic tradition (cf. Romans 3:17-20). Law was for him the expression of the Will of GOD in application to the conduct of man, as revealed to Moses and embodied in the written law and its authorised interpretations. The experience of his own religious growth, probably even before he became a Christian, threw into strong emphasis two characteristics of this revelation. First, that it put before man an exalted ideal of duty; the law was holy, righteous and good. Secondly, that neither in the law itself, nor in his own nature, could he discover any power which enabled him to fulfil the law. The law, in fact, was essentially an external standard, embodying declarations, apprehensible by man, of what was right; but not an internal power providing or imparting the ability to do what was right. To a nature which was capable of appreciating this standard, but did not find in itself the power nor even an unmixed desire to attain it, the result was that law produced a sense of sin, and a despair of righteousness, an almost hopeless lack of correspondence between the conduct of man and the Will of GOD. To this experience the revelation of Christ came as a moral and spiritual revolution. The fundamental meaning, from the point of view of conduct or ethics, of that revelation was, that in Christ is offered to man not merely a new standard of knowledge or conduct, but a new power of action. The spiritual life, seen in Jesus, as man, crucified and ascended, is offered directly to man as a reinforcement of his own higher intelligence and will through the living union of man with the ascended Christ. It is a revelation of spirit, communicated to spirit, enabling man to live as a spiritual being. Its primary condition, on the part of man, is trust, the realisation, in act as well as in consciousness, of personal and vital dependence upon GOD through Christ. It is therefore, in the fullest sense, a complete deliverance from the sense of sin and despair of righteousness, which the bare knowledge of the law had produced: it supplies the power of which the law terribly emphasised the want.

Such were the conclusions of personal experience. But, further, from his Jewish training (cf. Gift. p. 436), S. Paul had already conceived of the Gentile state as also under law. They too had received an expression of the divine will, in manifold application to the conduct of life; a universality of law to which the universality of the new revelation corresponded. And this wide conception of the range of law led to the emphasising of the general aspect of law, in distinction from its special embodiment for Jews in the Mosaic code. And, in both cases, the same essential characteristic comes out. Law is for the Gentile too an external standard, not carrying with it the inner spiritual power of framing conduct according to its demands. The description then of the natural state of man under law is common to Jew and Gentile. The penetrating analysis of the experience of the Jew is typical of all men, as possessed of moral consciousness.

Two further points require to be stated. First this revelation in law was not properly twofold. In both cases law is the expression of GOD’s will: the Mosaic law is only a more complete, clear and lofty expression: the law given, in conscience, to the Gentiles is on the same lines, but less complete. Consequently, in a certain sense, the Mosaic law was regarded as binding upon all men. This explains some of S. Paul’s language, and also the insistence of the Judaisers on enforcing the law.

In the second place, it is not to be supposed that S. Paul denies to the pre-Christian world all power of doing GOD’s will. It is clear (from Romans 2:14 alibi) that he recognised a righteousness among Gentiles, and of course among Jews. The point of his argument is, that this righteousness was due, not to law, but to faith, in real though elementary activity. This is elaborately argued in the case of Abraham and his case is shown to be typical both for Jews and Gentiles (Romans 4:12; Romans 4:16 f.; cf. Matthew 8:11; John 8:39). The argumentation of c. 7. is, in a certain degree, abstract (cf. Introd. p. xli); it isolates, for the moment, the one influence upon man provided by law, in order to bring out the exact measure and character of that influence; it does not deny the other influences by which GOD has, in all ages and places, kept not only the knowledge of His will alive but also the actual fulfilment of it.

[2] Bearing these considerations in mind, we can answer the second question briefly. The distinction between νόμος and ὁ νόμος depends on the ordinary rules of the article. Generally; νόμος, without the article, means law as such, without consideration of any particular form in which it may be known or embodied. It refers to the character of law, not to its particular mode or occasion. On the other hand ὁ νόμος means the particular law, which either ordinary experience, or the context in which it occurs, would bring to the mind of the hearer or reader. It follows, that νόμος without the article may refer to the Mosaic law, but, when it does, will refer to it in its character of law, rather than in its derivation from Moses (e.g. Romans 4:13). On the other hand, ὁ νόμος, while naturally and generally in S. Paul’s use referring to the Mosaic law, may refer to some other law which is for the moment under consideration (e.g. Romans 7:3). Within these general rules, the interpretation in any particular passage must be determined by the context.

On the very peculiar uses in Romans 3:27, Romans 7:21, Romans 8:2, see notes.

D. ἁμαρτία

cf. Davidson, O. T. Theology, pp. 203 f.; Westcott, Epp. Joh. pp. 37 ff. Kennett, Interpreter, July, 1910.

This word is used as the most general name for sin in itself and in all its forms. The original suggestion of ‘missing’ an aim or a way, contained both in the Hebrew (Davidson l.c[346]) and the Greek may be detected in such a phrase as Romans 3:23. But the word has got its full meaning from use. It includes ἀσέβεια, ἀδικία, ἀνομία, παράπτωμα, κακὸν ποιεῖν, πράσσειν, ἐργάζεσθαι. It is antithetic in its full range to δικαιοσύνη), as applied to men.

Two uses of the word must be distinguished. [1] It describes a state or condition in which men are, although it does not properly belong to human nature as meant by GOD. [2] It describes particular acts and habits in which men choose what is wrong rather than what is right.

[1] This use is found only in S. John (Ev., 1 Ep.) and S. Paul (Romans , 1 and 2 Cor., Gal., 2 Thes. (v. l) only). In S. Paul the use occurs twice in Gal. (Romans 2:17, Romans 3:21), twice in 1 Cor. (1 Corinthians 15:56), once in 2 Cor. (2 Corinthians 5:21), and 2 Thes. (2 Thessalonians 2:3 v. l). On the other hand it occurs more than forty times in Rom. (in cc. Romans 3, 5, 6, 7, 8), in S. John Ev. six times, in 1 Joh. five times (1 John 1:8, 1 John 3:4-5; 1 John 3:8-9).

[2] This use is found in Evv. Syn., Joh. [4], Acts, S. Paul (in above Epp. [7], in Eph., Col., 1 Thes., Past. [6]), Heb., James , 1 and 2 Pet., Rev.

This second use is reinforced by the occurrences of ἁμαρτάνω, as well as by ἁμάρτημα and other substantives which are more or less synonymous. The verb naturally is used of sinful acts and habits only; and always of the direct action of the man himself. In Romans 5:12 indeed it has been thought by some that a qualification such as ἀν Ἀδάμ must be introduced, but this is quite unwarrantable. See note.

The explanation of this distribution is that S. Paul in this section of the Romans and S. John (both Ev. and 1 Ep.) treat of sin in itself, as in some sense distinguished from particular sinful acts and habits: and they alone do so.

We will consider [1] in a little more detail, in relation to these chapters of Rom. According to it, sin is regarded as a principle or power, in itself external to and alien from man, but intruded into the world by an act of man (Romans 5:12) and gaining authority and establishing a hold over man’s nature (Romans 5:21, Romans 6:12; Romans 6:14; Romans 6:17), owing to the character of that nature, as composed of σάρξ and νοῦς or πνεῦμα (Romans 7:15 f.).

It is important to distinguish between the two stages of treatment. First, the fact of the presence and power of sin, its true relation to human nature, and the means of escape, are treated as matters of general experience, historically whether (cc. 1–3. summed up in Romans 5:12-21) of mankind in general or of the personal experience of Christians [6]. Secondly, in c. Romans 7:7 to Romans 8:11 the examination of the case is pursued by way of analysis of a single experience, in order to bring out, psychologically, the real nature of this experience of sin.

In the former passages the universality, power and effect of sin are elaborated. In the latter what we may call the rationale of sin is explained, as it occurs in man. In neither case is there any treatment of the existence or meaning of evil in itself. We are dealing at no point with the metaphysical problem, but throughout with the moral problem. This is made clear in a very remarkable manner, when we observe that S. Paul seems constantly to be on the verge of personifying sin, but never does so (of. S. H. p. 145 f.). Considering that he undoubtedly believed in a power and powers of evil, this is most noteworthy. He would seem to abstain from any such reference because he wishes to concentrate the whole attention on man’s responsibility and to exclude all secondary considerations whether of a metaphysical or other character. (Contrast 1 John 3:8-11; Ev. John 8:41; John 8:44 f.) This is in accordance with the main object of these chapters, to bring out the universality and urgency of man’s need which GOD meets by the power and the universality of the Gospel. Cf. Hort on James 1:14 (p. 24).

This emphasis on the responsibility of man for sin is most remarkable in Romans 5:12, the beginning of the most obscure passage in the whole treatment. There we are told, one man was the cause of sin coming into the world, and death through sin; but the spread of death to all is made to depend on the fact that each and all at one time or another sinned (πάντες ἥμαρτον). It is not the sharing in but the repetition of the original act which brings all under the same doom of death. The statement is all the more significant, because it would be fully in accordance with the most prominent strain of O. T. thought to represent men as being under doom of death owing to the one sin, not because they were themselves guilty but because in them their first forefather was still being punished (Davidson, op. cit[347] p. 220). This idea is repudiated in the text almost in set terms; and the individualistic morality of the later prophets is explicitly adopted. The universality of sin, an assumption made in full accordance with O. T., is not regarded as being merely an universal liability to sin, but as an universal commission of sins. (So Romans 1:18; Romans 3:23.) So in Romans 5:14 actual sin is not denied in regard to any men, but only exact correspondence in character of the actual sins of some with the transgression of Adam. And so too in c. 7 the psychological analysis of man’s nature, which is undertaken to show how he sins, shows sin to be in each the neglect to do what he knows to be right (cf. Romans 1:18 b).

What then is the connexion between Adam and other men which is indicated in Romans 5:12-21? And what is the line of analogy between that relation and the relation of men to Christ? Probably the true answer to these questions is that S. Paul does not give an answer in the sense in which we ask the questions. He is not in fact presenting a theory but appealing to acknowledged facts. Adam’s act was the beginning of sin: owing to that act Adam died; and all died, because all sinned (12–15). The only hint of the nexus here is in the phrase (Romans 5:19) τοῦ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου. This suggests that there is a connexion with Adam in natural humanity, as there is a connexion with Christ in regenerate humanity. But the latter connexion does not attain a moral value without an act of each man, and we must conclude that neither does the former connexion assume a moral value without an act of each man. In accordance with this conclusion, Romans 5:20 reminds us (cf. 14, Romans 7:9) that the single act of Adam’s fall would not have been repeated, had not law, in whatever form, come within men’s experience. All we can conclude is that there is a connexion of nature: and that in each man this nature, when in face of the knowledge of good and evil, fails as Adam failed. This failure is a matter of fact and observation, not explained by any theory. If we ask, what would have happened, in S. Paul’s view, if Adam had not sinned, we can only answer that S. Paul does not ask or answer the speculative question. He gives no theory: he merely elicits the facts as they appeared to him.

When we pass to the psychological treatment of c. Romans 7:7 to Romans 8:11 (cf. Romans 7:5), we find ourselves in presence of a distinction which has not been made explicitly in the preceding chapters, the distinction between σάρξ and πνεῦμα. And it is important to observe that σάρξ is used throughout the passage, not in its simple sense of human nature, as through its physical element transitory and perishable, but in the sense in which it admits of moral predications. S. Paul describes himself as σάρκινος, of a fleshly nature; and this is immediately supplemented by πεπραμένος ὑπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν. Flesh is a source in him of action, and, being under the dominion of sin, prompts to wrong action. It does not cover his whole being, though it dominates it. There is behind all an ego [17] which resists its promptings, in sympathy with the good which the νοῦς apprehends, though it is not strong enough to carry it out. It is this ego which, in spite of the domination of the σάρξ, still preserves the knowledge of and the will to good. It is in fact the πνεῦμα which, when reinforced by the power of the life which is of and in Christ, asserts its supremacy, defeats sin in its stronghold, and makes the man free from the policy and power of the ‘fleshly’ element (Romans 8:1-11).

On this we observe in the first place that this analysis is undertaken in order to bring out the real function and character of law. Man’s constitution properly understood shows how law, being itself spiritual, holy, righteous and good, may yet be an occasion of sin. And the reason is shown to lie in the actual behaviour of man in the face of the knowledge of law, not in the nature of law itself. But the transference of the sinful character from law to man necessitates further consideration of the nature of man. It might be supposed that man was essentially sinful. This is shown not to be the case. Sin is due not to man’s nature in itself and therefore necessary, but to the play of the elements of that nature among themselves, to the domination of the transitory and perishable nature (σάρξ) over that element by which man is essentially man and inwardly related to GOD (πνεῦμα), or, to put it the other way, to the failure of that in man, which should rule, to establish its rule. The analysis represents that domination as complete, as far as action goes; but not complete so far as to extinguish the higher element. And this state is unnatural, in the truest sense: for it is the result of a passing under the power of sin [14]. Why and how this comes about, S. Paul does not indicate; he describes it wholly by metaphors (ἀπέκτεινεν, πεπραμένος, ἐνοικοῦσι, ἀντιστρατευόμενον); he again gives no theory; he describes the fact, which he experiences, of the double forces at work in a man’s consciousness. There is the knowledge of good, there is the wrong act, there is the sense of sin and helplessness: there is again the reinforcement of the spirit by the Christ and the change of balance. Sin is man’s own act and yet not his true act: yet as his act it becomes a power dominating him by the use of what is truly part of himself. The whole process is within his own experience (Romans 7:5; Romans 7:9; Romans 7:14 f.). The sin which dwells in him is his own sin. In regard to ‘flesh,’ the flesh is not in itself sinful (Romans 7:9) but neither is it in itself good; it is neutral till the man begins to use it, with the knowledge given by law: but just because it is neutral, it is not easily malleable to the uses of the spirit; the man lets it engross his activity, in contradiction to such uses, and becomes not only ‘flesh’ but ‘fleshly’; the uses of the flesh supplant the uses of the spirit; and this disproportion or false relation, false to man’s true nature, is the state of sin. Consequently, sin is still originally and essentially due to man’s own act; it does not characterise flesh till an act of the kind has been committed: and when man’s spirit is so far renewed and reinforced that its habitual actions are changed and reversed, the flesh itself becomes, even with its present limitations, no longer the field of sin but an instrument of the spirit; cf. Romans 6:12, Romans 8:11.

In regard to this passage as a whole, the question is asked whether S. Paul is here giving his own experience or dramatising in his own person what he conceives to be the general experience of men. There can be but one answer. The personal element is too definite, too sustained, and even too passionate, to allow the hypothesis of mere imagination. But even so there are two observations to be made. First the analysis of a personal experience is so far akin to the poetic dramatisation of common human experience, that both, if they are true and deep enough, carry us down to the fundamental facts and elements of human nature, which are common. The experience here analysed is typical just because it is so intensely and veraciously personal. Secondly, we are not to assume that in this analysis S. Paul is giving us the whole even of his pre-Christian experience. It is not his object to exhaust the account of himself, but to show his particular experience of the relation of law and sin. It is wrong to conclude that he could recognise in his pre-conversion life nothing but sin. As in Gentiles (Romans 2:15) and in Abraham and his true descendants (Romans 4:16 f.), so in himself he would recognise the presence, in its degree, both of the working of GOD’s Spirit and of the response of faith, the testimonium animae naturaliter Christianae. What he gives us here is not an exhaustive account, but a description of the dominant character of his religious life before his conversion, and, undoubtedly, a very real and awful experience.

What conception, then, does S. Paul mean to convey by ‘sin’ as a power or influence? It seems to follow, from the above examination, that it is the conception of sin as a habit, formed by a succession of acts and seeming to acquire, and indeed acquiring for our experience, a control and mastery over a man, such as might be exercised by an external power. It comes to be felt as a power which holds man under bondage. And it is this feeling which S. Paul expresses by the metaphors, βασιλεύειν, δουλεία etc. But he does not go on to account for it, beyond the testimony of experience. He assumes its universality, as a matter of common acknowledgment. He describes its character in such a way as to connect it with the action of the human will. He shows its operation, in the springing up of a wrong relation between the two main elements in human nature. And the deductions he draws are the necessity for man in the first place of forgiveness and justification and in the second place of the re-creation of, or communication of a new life to, his spirit, and through his spirit to his whole nature. Beyond these limits he does not go.

E. θάνατος in CC. 5, 6, 7

The use of this word and its cognates, in these chapters, is a striking instance of S. Paul’s method. He passes without hesitation from one meaning to another. In c. Romans 5:12-21 the sense seems always to be that of natural death. In c. 6 it is used of the death of Christ upon the cross, of the death to sin in baptism, of natural death or perhaps spiritual (16, 23); in c. Romans 7:1-3 of natural death; 4, 6 of death to the former state of sin under law; 9 ff. of spiritual death in sin. There is no attempt to harmonise these various meanings; the context alone decides between them in each case. And in some cases, as the notes have shown, it is by no means easy to decide. The natural and the spiritual are too closely interwoven, not only in S. Paul’s thought but in common religious experience. It is interesting to notice that the metaphorical or spiritual use of the term is rare in S. Paul’s other epistles (2 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:7 (?), 2 Corinthians 5:15; Galatians 2:19; Colossians 2:20; Colossians 3:3; 1 Timothy 5:6; cf. νεκρός, Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13; Colossians 3:5 only), and paralleled only in S. John (1 John 3:14; 1 John 5:16-17; Ev. John 5:24, John 8:51 only) and perhaps James 1:15.

F. Romans 9:5

ὁ ὣ ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ἀμήν

The insertion of the participle throws emphasis on ἐπὶ πάντων and shows that it must be taken as subject and θεὸς as in apposition. Otherwise we should expect ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων θεός. ἐπὶ πάντων implies not mere superiority (which seems never to be indicated by ἐπὶ with gen.) but authority and government, = He who is supreme governor of all things, a periphrasis for κύριος. πάντων is probably neuter and refers to the whole process, in sum and in detail, of the ordered government and dispensations of the ages. The only other occurrence of ἐπὶ πάντων in N.T. is in Ephesians 4:6. The question, therefore, whether the phrase can be applied to ὁ χριστός depends not on any strict parallel, but on the analogy of the use of κύριος: for this cf. Romans 10:9 with 12; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:10-11; and esp. 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:5; and generally the application of κύριος, with its O.T. associations, to Christ; see Hort, 1 Pet. p. 30 f. It still remains open to question whether S. Paul would name, as an attribute of the Christ, the management of the dispensations; Hebrews 1:3 (φέρων κ.τ.λ.) is only partly paralleled by Colossians 1:17; and S. Paul himself seems to reserve this function of providential government to GOD as creator. The term κύριος seems to be applied to Christ rather as sovereign over the present dispensation, than as the director of all the dispensations, the Son being the agent of the operations of the Father: cf. Romans 16:25-26. It was probably some such consideration as this that led Hort to say (Appendix, ad loc[348]) that the separation of this clause from ὁ χρ. τ. κ. σ. “alone seems adequate to account for the whole of the language employed.” Neither S. H. nor Giff. elucidate this point. The question is not whether the term θεὸς as predicate or the verbal εὐλογητὸς would be used of Christ by S. Paul (there is strong evidence for an affirmative answer); but whether he would assign to Him this function of deity. It is to be observed that it is generally agreed that the form of the phrase ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων throws the stress exactly on this function. These considerations point to a separation of this clause from the preceding; cf. 1 Clem. xxxii. 2.

Two questions remain: [1] is the insertion of the clause, if separated from the preceding, natural in the context? [2] does the run of the whole sentence allow of such separation?

As regards [1] the immediate context deals with GOD’s dispensation to and through Israel suggested by the strange paradox that the dispensation of the Gospel, expounded in the preceding chapters and in full climax in ch. 8, finds Israel alien. That the Gospel should have been prepared for in Israel, and that in spite of Israel’s opposition the Gospel should now be in full course in its comprehensive universality, are both the results of GOD’s government or management of the dispensations: it is not unnatural that when the climax of the description of Israel’s past has been reached, while the climax of ch. 8 is still in mind, S. Paul should turn to bless Him who directs and orders all, GOD worthy to be blessed for ever. The emphatic position and phrasing of ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων suits the turn of thought exactly. Nor is this assumption out of place here, in view of the great sorrow spoken of in Romans 16:2 (as Giff.): that sorrow does not even for a moment suspend S. Paul’s trust in the just and merciful government of GOD.

[2] It is no doubt true that the change of subject is abrupt: but it is of the very nature of an interjectional ascription to be abrupt: and the formal abruptness is compensated by the naturalness of the interjection.

Two further points require to be noticed. [1] It is argued that in ascriptions of blessing εὐλογητὸς always comes first in the sentence. But no order of words is so fixed that it cannot be changed for emphasis’ sake: and the emphasis on ὁ ὢ ἐπὶ πάντων is amply sufficient to account for the order here; cf. Psalms 67 [68]:2 LX[349]. [2] It is argued that τὸ κατὰ σάρκα. requires the statement of the other side of the nature of the Christ. But this argument ignores the reason for the mention of the Christ here at all, namely, to complete the enumeration of the privileges of Israel.

On the whole I conclude that the most natural interpretation is to place the stronger stop after σάρκα and to translate ‘He that governs all, even GOD, be blessed for ever. Amen.’

It is perhaps necessary to observe that this comment is not influenced by the consideration that S. Paul was not likely to apply the term θεὸς predicatively to Christ. The possibility of his doing so ought not to be denied in view of 2 Thessalonians 1:12, Philippians 2:6, 2 Corinthians 13:13, and other passages in which the Father and the Son are coordinated.

Prof. Burkitt (J. T. S. v. p. 451 ff.) argues that the ἀμὴν marks the clause as an ascription of blessing to GOD, not a description of nature. The ascription is here made, as an appeal for GOD’s witness to the truth and sincerity of his statement in 1–4; cf. Romans 1:25; 2 Corinthians 11:31. He takes ὁ ὢν (cf. Exodus 3:14-15; Revelation 1:4) as representing the ‘Name of the Holy One,’ the mere utterance of which with the necessarily accompanying benediction is an appeal to the final court of truth. So he connects “Romans 9:1; Romans 9:5 b, οὐ ψεύδομαιὁ ὤν, ἐπὶ πάντων θεός, εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν: I lie not. The Eternal (Blessed is His Name!) I call Him to witness.” While this argument seems to me conclusive as to the main connexion and intention of the clause, and the reference in ὁ ὢν to Exodus seems very probable, I still feel that the context and the Greek order point to connecting ἐπὶ πάντων with ὁ ὢν, nor does this seem inconsistent with such a reference. If ἐπὶ πάντων had been meant as epithet to θεὸς, I should have expected the avoidance of ambiguity by a change of order—θεὸς ἐπὶ πάντων.

A conjectural emendation of the text (ὧν ὁ for ὁ ὢν) has occurred to commentators from time to time. Jonas Schlicting in his commentary on the Romans [1656] mentions it, as likely to suggest itself, and points out the suitability of the climax, but rejects it as giving an unscriptural phrase. John Taylor (of Norwich, 1754) makes the same suggestion and justifies it as giving a proper climax. Wetstein refers to these and others, without comment. Bentley (Crit. Sacr. ed. Ellis, p. 30) mentions it, apparently with favour. John Weiss (op. cit[350] p. 238) adopts it, referring to Wrede, Lic. Disp., a work which I have not seen. Hart, J. T. S. xi. p. 36 n., suggests the same emendation.

Mr Hart supports the emendation, in a letter to me, as follows: “St Paul is writing here if anywhere as a Jew, and the relation of Israel to the GOD of Jacob forms the proper climax: Christian scribes altered the text because in their view that privilege was forfeited and had lapsed to the Church. I think this passage from Philo clinches the matter—de praemiis § 123 (M. ii. p. 428) (Leviticus 26:12) τούτου καλεῖται θεὸς ἰδίως ὁ τῶν συμπάντων θεὸς, καὶ λαὸς ἐξαιρετὸς πάλιν οὗτος οὐ τῶν κατὰ μέρος ἀρχόντων ἀλλὰ τοῦ ἑνὸς καὶ πρὸς ἀλήθειαν ἄρχοντος, ἁγίου ἅγιος.—So St Paul says ‘to whom belongs the supreme GOD, blessed be He for ever and ever, Amen.’ But his reporters did not sympathise and desiderated an antithesis to κατὰ σάρκα, having identified the (abstract) Messiah with our Lord.”

It will be seen that here again the justification of the conjecture depends on the propriety of the climax. The quotation from Philo does not, I think, carry us far. He is there emphasising the establishment of a personal relation between the GOD of all men and the individual saint, and he calls this single person a λαὸς ἐξαιρετός. Such language could of course be used by any Jew or Christian. We have a parallel in Hebrews 11:16 : οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται ὁ θεὸς θεὸς ἐπικαλεῖσθαι αὐτῶν, ἡτοίμασεν γὰρ αὐτοῖς πόλιν. But the point need not be laboured. Against this suggestion the following points may be urged:—[1] It ignores the effect of the ἀμήν in making the whole clause an ascription: see above. [2] The question is raised whether the idea embodied in the term ‘The GOD of Israel’ is naturally to be expected as the climax of the enumeration here made. It may be premised that that term is never used by S. Paul in his Epistles, or indeed in the N. T. except in Matthew 15:31, Luke 16:18, Acts 13:17. It does not occur, either explicitly or implicitly, in the other enumerations of the privileges of Israel (Romans 2:17; Romans 3:3, 2 Corinthians 11:22). Further, in this Epistle the whole argument has been based on the universal relation of GOD to man; and the very phrase ἐξ ὧν ὁ χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα seems to exclude the divine relation of the Christ, and a fortiori the relation of man to GOD, from the list of the special privileges of Israel. Finally, the phrase ἐπὶ πάντων (see above), as referring directly to the governing and dispensing operations of GOD gives, almost necessarily, a wider range of reference than to the relations to Israel alone.

G. CAPP. 9–11

The difficulty of the passage for us lies in the fact that we habitually think primarily of the destiny of the individual as such and the determination of his final position in relation to GOD: and we bring into this passage the problems of predestination and freewill as they affect the individual man. S. Paul’s thought here is different. He is thinking, first, of the purpose of GOD and the work to be done in the execution of that purpose. He then sees in the selection of certain men and nations for this work, the determination, that is to say, of their position in regard to the work, a signal instance of GOD’s graciousness and mercy. It is a high privilege to be called to assist in carrying out GOD’s purpose. Finally, he holds that, with this call and determination by GOD, there still remains to man the choice of acceptance of the call. If he accepts willingly, he becomes an instrument of mercy, that is an instrument in the execution of GOD’s purpose for mankind. If he rejects the call and sets himself against the purpose, he still cannot escape from the position of an instrument; but, by his own act, he puts himself into that relation to GOD, which involves the exhibition of GOD’s wrath on sin; he becomes an instrument of wrath, serving GOD’s purpose still, but in spite of himself and to his own destruction.

Within the lines of this conception, we can see the rationale of S. Paul’s treatment of individual cases. In the case of Esau and Jacob, the selection assigned to Jacob the leading part in the execution of the purpose, to Esau the part of a servant. In the history of Esau and his descendants, it is clear this part of a servant was rejected; Edom set itself in antagonism to Israel, fell under the wrath of GOD and received the doom implied in the word ἐμίσησα. In the case of Pharaoh, the selection assigned to him the rôle of giving a signal exhibition of GOD’s power and proclamation of His Name. The way in which Pharaoh played that rôle was again the way of opposition: he set himself against the purpose of GOD: a ‘hardening’ of his own character and purpose was the result; where he might have been an instrument of mercy, he became an instrument of wrath; and while GOD’s purpose of mercy in Israel was still fulfilled, Pharaoh was doomed. In the case of Israel, we see an ambiguous result. The selection, again, assigned to Israel the place in the execution of the purpose, which involved the storing up and ultimately the communication of GOD’s purpose of mercy to all mankind. As the history of Israel develops, some are seen to accept this duty, others to reject it. There follows in part, a blinding of perception (πώρωσις ἀπὸ μέρους), an ignorance (ἄγνοια) of the end itself for which they are selected. The end itself cannot now be carried out by their means; and they are rejected. But this very rejection of part of Israel is a further revelation of GOD’s true purpose in Israel; and the continued acceptance of the faithful remnant is a triumphant vindication of the patience of GOD and the permanence of His purpose. Only in the case of the faithless portion of Israel, does S. Paul’s thought pass on to the ultimate issue for those who reject their proper work in the execution of the purpose. Here he derives from the fact of the original selection a far-reaching hope. He seems to suggest that the ultimate realisation of the purpose of GOD for all mankind, through the faithful stock, may itself produce such an effect upon the blinded Israel, that they too will see the truth and again come under the mercy of GOD (Romans 11:11-12; Romans 11:17-23; Romans 11:28-32). In most remarkable language he speaks of the gifts and the calling of GOD being irreversible, and the love of GOD, manifested in the original selection and exhibited towards ‘the fathers,’ as still marking His real relation even to these children who have rejected its appeal.

We observe, then, in these chapters, as in the earlier, that S. Paul is dealing with what he regards as the facts of history and experience, and drawing his conclusions from them. He is not expounding a solution or even a statement of the metaphysical problems of predestination and freewill. He conceives of human experience as witnessing to a comprehensive and far-reaching purpose of GOD in His self-revelation to man. The destinies of men he sees as determined, on the one hand, by GOD’s call to men and to families and nations to take part in the execution of that purpose, and, on the other, by the attitude which men, as individuals or families or nations, take up towards that call. The call assigns in each case a definite part and duty, not the same for all, but differentiated, that each may have his part. And in accordance with the way in which each undertakes the part assigned to him, comes success or failure for him. The grounds on which the several parts are assigned are hidden in the mystery of creation. The ultimate issue for individuals is hidden. What is known is that behind the vast purpose remains eternally the love of GOD, and in its execution is manifested inexhaustible wisdom and knowledge. If we feel, at first, a sense of disappointment, when we realise that we can get little light from these chapters on those metaphysical problems, a little reflection will show that the religious significance of the position here expounded is of enormously greater importance than any such solution could be. The conception of the whole process of the ages as being based upon the love of GOD, and directed in whole and in detail by His infinite wisdom and knowledge; the conception of man as called to cooperate with GOD in the execution of this mighty plan; the assertion of man’s undiluted responsibility for playing his part in the place assigned to him, in free response to the call of GOD here are ideas which touch life at every point, and have the power to inspire faith and to invigorate character in the highest degree.

On this question of election there is a very interesting discussion by Hort, in the Life and Letters, ii. p. 333.


1. This word, in the sense of a commissioned representative, is not found in Greek later than Herodotus (i. 21, v. 38). In classical Greek it means ‘a fleet’ or ‘expedition.’ It has not yet been found in Hellenistic Greek; but it would not be surprising if it should occur at that stage in the same sense as in the old Ionic language (cf. Nägeli, pp. 22–23).

2. In the Synoptic Gospels, the word is used by all three with reference to the Galilean mission of the disciples (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:14; Mark 6:30; Luke 6:13; Luke 9:10). It is possible that, as von Dobschütz argues, all these cases may be traced to S. Luke. But the use of the verb ἀποστέλλω in the same connexion (Matthew 10:5; Matthew 10:16; Matthew 10:40; Mark 3:14; Mark 6:7) in Mt. and Mk makes it probable that the substantive also is original in these passages. Otherwise it is found in S. Luke only (Luke 11:49, Luke 17:5, Luke 22:14, Luke 24:10). But the verb, again, is used by the Lord both of His own mission, and of the mission of prophets, and of disciples, both in plain sayings and in parables. The quotation in Luke 4:18 may be the origin of the whole usage.

3. S. John uses the substantive only once (John 13:16) to describe, though indirectly, the relation of the disciples to the Lord. He also uses the verb both of the Lord’s own mission and of His mission of the disciples.

While these facts do not prove conclusively that the word was used of the Twelve by the Lord Himself, they show that the adoption of the title by the Twelve from the first would have been natural, if not inevitable.

4. The use in the Acts is consistent: [1] it is commonly used of the Twelve (Eleven) in the early chapters (1–11, 15) only. They are otherwise described, as the Eleven (Acts 2:14) or the Twelve (Acts 6:2) only. It is to be noted that in this section the properly missionary work of the Twelve is the main subject: in c. 15 the conditions of missionary work are under discussion. The dominant use therefore of this term is natural: and its strict limitation to the Twelve shows that it already has an official sense. It is hardly possible, however, to say whether the word belongs to an early document used by S. Luke, or whether it is chosen by him as the best description in the circumstances of the character which the Twelve bear. There is nothing so far to show that he included any others than the Twelve in the title. [2] Twice and only twice he uses the word of Barnabas and Paul, on their first mission (Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14). It is to be noticed that he does not use the word in describing the origin of the mission (ἀφορίσατεἀπέλυσαν,Acts 13:2-3) but in Acts 13:4 he uses the remarkable phrase ἐκπεμφθέντες ὑπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος (Acts 13:2, cf. Acts 14:26). The commission and the work were not given by the Church but by the Holy Spirit, and under ‘the grace of GOD.’ We cannot say, therefore, that the term ἀπόστολος is here used of them as commissioned by the Church of Antioch. As with the Twelve, so with these two the commission is from above.

It is remarkable that the word does not appear again after c. 15 As regards the Twelve the explanation is obvious: they are not mentioned again[351]. But it is very remarkable that the term is never again used of S. Paul[352]. If we bear in mind how frequently S. Paul uses it of himself, the fact of its absence from this whole section of S. Luke would seem to militate against the suggestion that S. Luke is dependent on S. Paul for his use of the word; and to favour the supposition that in the earlier chapters he found it in his sources.

5. S. Paul’s letters give us the earliest direct documentary evidence for the current meaning of the word: it is therefore important to consider in detail his use.

i. He uses the word of himself in the addresses of all his epistles, except 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Romans, Philippians and Philemon. In all cases the source of the apostleship is described, either by the simple genitive Ἰησοῦ Χρ. or Χρ. Ἰης., or in Galatians by an expanded prepositional clause having the same effect. The absence of the title in 1 and 2 Thessalonians is probably due to the greeting being a joint one from ‘Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus’: that he claimed the office is clear from 1 Thessalonians 2:6. In Romans and Philippians, for different though cognate reasons, he suppresses the title: in Romans it is part of his delicate waiving of authority; in Philippians it is one of the many marks of intimacy and affection. But in the introduction to the Romans he describes his own position in terms of the apostolate (Romans 1:5, ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολήν) with the same indication of its relation to the Lord (δι' οὗ) as in Galatians.

The use of the word of himself is rare in other parts of the Epistles. Once in 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:1-2) he insists on his position as apostle and the consequent rights. In the same epistle (1 Corinthians 15:7) he recalls its original basis. In 2 Corinthians we may say that the whole of cc. 2 Corinthians 10-13 are an assertion and defence of his apostolic character, though he does not apply the word directly to himself except in 1 Corinthians 12:12. In 1 Thessalonians 2:6 and 1 Corinthians 4:9 he includes himself in the number of Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι or simply οἱ ἀπόστολοι. In 1 Timothy 2:7, 2 Timothy 1:11 he refers to his appointment (ἐτέθην) as apostle. Finally, in Romans 11:13 he speaks of himself as ἐθνῶν ἀπόστολος—the only place where he uses the word with an objective genitive: though in Galatians 2:8 we have ἀποστολή with the same genitive.

There can be no doubt as to the meaning of the title to S. Paul. It involves a definite and direct appointment received from the Lord, to preach the Gospel, in particular to the Gentiles, to carry the due authority as representative of the Lord (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20), and to do the acts belonging to such an office. It is an independent and plenipotentiary office, in the assertion of which often the whole cause of the Gospel proves to be involved. At the same time there is no trace that either the office or the name or the contents are new. Where there is explanation, it is of the nature of an appeal to acknowledged facts rather than of exposition of any new idea or interpretation. When his position is disputed, it is his right to the office which is challenged, not his presentation of it. Consequently we conclude that the idea of the Office, in the full sense as conceived by S. Paul, was already present and the word current in the Church when he first used it.

ii. The question, however, arises, was it also current in a looser and wider sense? And as far as S. Paul’s evidence goes this leads to an examination of those passages in which he either includes others with himself in the designation, or applies it to others apart from himself.

There are three classes of passages to be examined. First those in which there is a reference to all or some of the ‘original apostles’ whether exclusively or not; secondly, those in which the name is given to definite persons other than the original apostles; thirdly, those which speak of ‘apostles’ generally.

(a) To take first the references to the ‘original’ apostles.

Galatians 1:17; Galatians 1:19. The exact references in this passage are not clear. S. Paul first says that he did not go up immediately after his conversion to Jerusalem, πρὸς τοὺς πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἀποστόλους. The phrase implies his own inclusion at that time in the class of Apostles: it must, presumably, refer to the Eleven or Twelve; but whether it includes others besides them is an open question. Anyhow, it implies that they were all apostles in the full sense in which he claimed to be one. Secondly, he seems to include both Cephas and James the brother of the Lord in the class of apostles (Galatians 1:18-19): here we find an additional member of the class beside the Twelve, unless ‘James the brother of the Lord’ is, as is supposed by some, to be identified with James the Less. In the following chapter he speaks of James, Cephas and John as στύλοι δοκοῦντες.… And his language shows that they as well as Barnabas were included with him, on an equality, though with different spheres of work.

Here, then, we have the apostolate including, besides the Twelve, James (if not one of the Twelve), Barnabas and Paul. There is no question as to what an apostle is, only as to who are apostles.

1 Corinthians 9:5, μὴ οὐκ ἔχομεν ἐξουσίανὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ ἀπόστολοι καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ Κηφᾶς; ἢ μόνος ἐγὼ καὶ Βαρνάβας οὐκ ἔχομεν ἐξουσίαν

Here clearly Paul and Barnabas are assumed to be ἀπόστολοι. The clause ὡς καὶΚηφᾶς is strangely worded. But as Κηφᾶς is clearly one of οἱ λοιποὶ ἀπόστολοι, it would appear that οἱ ἀδελφοὶ τοῦ κ. must also be included in the class: i.e. other brethren of the Lord besides James.

1 Corinthians 15:7, εἶτα τοῖς ἀποστόλοις πᾶσιν.

This follows the mention of Cephas, the Twelve, the Five Hundred Brethren, James. It is possible that as ‘the Twelve’ in this enumeration include Cephas, so ‘all the apostles’ include the Twelve and James only. But it is more natural to understand the phrase, with its emphatic πᾶσιν, as including others. And in that case there were others, apostles in the same sense as the Twelve and James. There is no question here of a looser meaning of the word, but only of a wider range in its application.

2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 12:11, οἱ ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι.

In spite of the strong statement of certain critics, there is much to be said for referring this phrase to the same persons as are described in Galatians as οἱ πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἀπόστολοι. The exact range implied is not clear. If, however, it is to be taken to refer to those who are described in Romans 11:13 as μετασχηματιζόμενοι ὡς ἀπόστολοι Χριστοῦ, then the phrase is ironic, and describes the claim of those persons, not an admitted status. That claim may well have included a commission from the Lord, whether truly or falsely asserted; and indeed the words ἀπόστολοι Χρ. seem to imply that these persons did in any case make such a claim. In this event, as S. Paul does not exclude the possibility of others than the Twelve, James, Barnabas and himself having such a commission, we should have here definite evidence that there were others who rightly claimed the direct commission which is distinctive of the apostle in the strict sense of the word.

To return to 1 Corinthians 15:8, ἔσχατον δὲ πάντων κτλ. would seem to imply that to none later than S. Paul was such a direct communication addressed as could form the basis of the apostolic status. He was the last of the Apostles.

Consequently, if the name covers the wider range that has been suggested, it still excludes all whose conversion must be dated later than S. Paul’s.

(b) We pass to the cases in which the word is used of others than those specifically named.

2 Corinthians 11:13, μετασχηματιζόμενοι ὡς ἀπόστολοι Χριστοῦ.

This passage has been already dealt with. It supports both the strict meaning and the wide range of the word.

2 Corinthians 8:23, εἴτε ἀδελφοὶ ἡμῶν ἀπόστολοι ἐκκλησιῶν.

The context clearly decides that this phrase means ‘representative agents of churches.’ They are therefore called δόξα Χριστοῦ a manifestation of the power and the love of Christ, working in these churches to produce the exhibition of Christian brotherliness, in the contribution raised for the poor saints at Jerusalem. The whole passage deals with this contribution, and, in particular, with the precautions taken by S. Paul to have the whole matter put above suspicion. Representatives of all the contributing churches were associated with him in the company that conveyed the gift (see note on Romans 16:16). Thus here we have a clear case of the use of the word not with a wider meaning, but in a different meaning, clearly defined by the genitive and by the context.

Philippians 2:25, Ἐπαφρόδιτον τὸν ἀδελφὸν καὶ συνεργὸν καὶ συστρατιώτην μου ὑμῶν δὲ ἀπόστολον καὶ λειτουργὸν τῆς χρείας μου.

Here again the context defines the meaning. Epaphroditus has been sent to represent the affection and support given by the Philippians to S. Paul in his labours. He has brought the assurance of their eager and unfailing affection, of their keenness for the propagation of the Gospel, and a contribution in money for this purpose. He is the agent whom the Church has sent to minister to S. Paul’s need. The sense of the word is exactly the same as in 2 Corinthians 8:23.

(c) In four passages—1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11—the word is used absolutely, twice to describe the first order of members of the Church, each with their distinctive function and work (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11); once to describe the foundation on which the Church is built (Ephesians 2:20); once to describe the primary recipients of the Gospel revelation (Ephesians 3:5). There can be no question but that in these passages the word is used in its strict sense: but the range covered by it is left undefined.

We conclude, then, as to S. Paul’s use of the word:

(i) In all but two passages, he uses it of commissioned preachers of the Gospel. Wherever he defines the source of the commission, it is referred to the direct intervention of the Lord. It is reasonable to infer that the same direct intervention is implied in those passages where there is no precise definition.

(ii) In two passages only is it used in another sense, and there the special sense is clearly defined.

(iii) There is no evidence that he used the word in such a general sense of ‘missionaries’ as would dispense with this condition.

(iv) He includes under the name, the Twelve, the Brethren of the Lord, himself, Barnabas, perhaps Silas and probably others unnamed (1 Corinthians 15:7); he must be taken to imply that all these men were original Apostles, in the sense that they received their commission from the Lord Himself.

(d) We now come to Romans 16:7.

The obvious meaning of this passage is that Andronicus and Junias were themselves apostles. According to S. Paul’s usage, this must mean that they were apostles in the strict sense, that is, that they had received their commission from the Lord Himself and probably (see above, on 1 Corinthians 15:8) before S. Paul. They were among the οἱ πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἀπόστολοι of Galatians 1:17. And this points to supplying ἀπόστολοι to γέγοναν—who became apostles in Christ even before me.

6. In other passages of the N.T. (a) we find the title ἀπ. . Χρ. in 1 and 2 Peter 1:1.

(b) In 2 Peter 3:2, Judges 1:17 we have a general reference to οἱ ἀπόστολοι (τ. κ. λ. Jude) as the original authorities for teaching.

(c) Revelation 18:20, the apostles are the first class in the Church, followed by οἱ προφῆται.

(d) Revelation 21:14, δώδεκα ὀνόματα τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τοῦ ἀρνίου are written on the twelve foundation-stones of the city.

(e) Revelation 2:2, there are those who assert themselves to be apostles and are not as in 2 Corinthians 11:13.

The only passage which contributes new light is Revelation 21:14, where there is an apparent identification of ‘the Twelve’ and the ‘Apostles.’ It would appear that the number twelve has become symbolic: and we can hardly argue from this passage as to who were included in the class.

(f) Hebrews 3:1 gives us a unique description of our Lord as ἀπόστολος. This must be connected with those passages in Synn. Evv. and Joh., in which the verb is used by our Lord of His own mission.

7. In the Patres Apostolici the word is used exclusively of the original apostles as deriving their authority directly from the Lord. None are mentioned by name as apostles except S. Peter and S. Paul. Papias, who names several of the Twelve, does not use the word apostle.

The only exception to the rule is to be found in the Didache, where ‘apostles’ seem to be itinerant missionaries. The use is unique; unless Hermas, Sim. 9; 15, 4; 16, 5, are to be taken as implying a wider range. But ib[353] 17, 1 seems to limit the term ἀπόστολος to the Twelve; the others would be included under διδάσκαλοι. We must either suppose that the author of this portion of the Didache used what had become a current term for wandering evangelists: or that the application of the term to such is his own invention (see Dean Robinson, J. T. S., April 1912, pp. 350–351). In either case it cannot be taken as evidence for the use or meaning of the term in the Apostolic times.

8. It has been suggested that the term is derived from contemporary Jewish practice. It is supposed that it was customary to send from Jerusalem persons representing the authorities to the various settlements of Jews of the Dispersion. The definite evidence for this is found in Justin Dial. 17 and 108, where he speaks of ‘chosen men’ being sent from Jerusalem to denounce the new Christian heresy. Saul’s mission to Damascus is regarded as an instance of this procedure. The supposition is in itself, on general grounds, probable; but there is no evidence that the name ‘apostles’ was given to such persons: and it is obvious that the character of their office and business was widely different from that of the Christian Apostles.

Further, it has been suggested that a parallel may be found in the use of the name apostoli, for agents sent by the central authority to collect the annual tribute of the Jews of the Dispersion. But such agents do not seem to have been sent out till after the destruction of Jerusalem. Before that time, the process by which these contributions were remitted to Jerusalem is clearly described both by Philo (de mon., Mang. II. 224: leg. ad Caium, Mang. II. 568, 592) and Josephus (Antt. xiv. 7, 2; xvi. 6 ff.). The contributions were stored up in a safe place in the locality and remitted to Jerusalem by the hands of members of the particular community, carefully selected. These people were called ἱερόπομποι (Philo) and the contributions ἱερὰ χρήματα. There is no hint of any agents from Jerusalem being concerned in the matter: and the persons actually engaged were not called ‘apostles.’ The real parallel to this arrangement is the measures taken by S. Paul for providing for the safe and trustworthy remission to Jerusalem of the contributions of the Gentile Churches. It was not till after the destruction of Jerusalem, when we may suppose that it became necessary to provide further means for the consolidation of the relations with the central community, that we hear of ‘apostles’ sent from the centre for this and other purposes.

To sum up:

1. There is practically no evidence for the use of this term in the sense required in classical Greek later than Herodotus (Nägeli, ad v[354]).

2. It is used in LXX[355], 3 Kings Romans 14:6 (A), of Ahijah the prophet; and of messengers, Isaiah 18:2 (Q).

3. In John 13:16 it is used as correlative to τὸν πέμψαντα: it does not occur elsewhere in S. John: but the verb is used both of the Lord’s own mission and of His mission of the disciples.

4. In the Synoptic Gospels it is used in connexion with the Galilean Mission (by all three); otherwise only by S. Luke (thrice); in all cases with reference to the Twelve.

The verb is used in sayings attributed to the Lord, of Himself, of the O.T. prophets, and of the Twelve, in reference to the Galilean mission.

5. In Hebrews it is used of the Lord Himself.

6. It is used of the Twelve and of Barnabas and Paul in Acts; of the Twelve (? exclusively) in Rev. and (including S. Paul) in the Patres Apostolici.

7. In S. Paul it is used of himself (as 1 and 2 Pet.): of those who were apostles before him including the Twelve and others: of apostles as original and first order in the Church (so 2 Pet., Jude, Rev.), in no case with precise definition of range: and in two cases of agents commissioned by churches.

8. There is no distinct evidence that it was in use among the Jews in the Apostolic age.

9. The Didache is the only evidence in the first 150 years for its use among Christians in the more general sense of εὐαγγελιστής.

10. It is a probable conclusion that the word was derived from the Lord Himself; either that He called the Twelve apostles: or that His use of the verb to describe His own mission and theirs, led His followers who received the special commission to describe themselves as His ἀπόστολοι.

On this subject see Lightfoot, Galatians, pp. 92 ff.; Von Dobschütz, Probleme, pp. 104 f.; Batiffol, Primitive Catholicism (E.T. 1911), pp. 36 ff.; Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, pp. 22 f.; Chapman, John the Presbyter.

I. CAPP. 15, 16


There is considerable difficulty as to the original place of the doxology (Romans 16:25-27). The facts are as follows:

I. The doxology is placed

1. at the end of the Epistle (after Romans 16:23 [24])

i. by the MSS preferred by Origen (Ruf.),

ii. by אBCDE minusc. 3, 4, def, Vulg., Pesh., Boh., Aeth., Orig. (Ruf.), Ambrosiaster, Pelagius, Aug., Sed., 16, 18, 137, 176.

i. Some MSS ap. Origen.

ii. L, most minusc., Syr. Harcl., Goth., Theodoret, Joh. Damasc.: Antiochian recension and commentators.

3. In both places Revelation 5, 17, Arm. codd.

4. Omitted altogether

i. Marcion ap. Origen. Codd. ap. Hieron. (in Ephesians 3:5) = Origen (Hort, Lft Essays p. 333).

ii. FGg.

II. There is some, very obscure, evidence that cc. 15, Romans 16:23 [24] were omitted in some systems of Church lections. This depends on the list of capitula in Codices Amiatinus and Fuldensis, both of which seem to omit cc. 15, 16. while including the doxology immediately after Romans 14:23. The only other evidence for this omission is Marcion, ap. Origen (as generally interpreted, see below). G has a blank space after Romans 14:23; but the attempt to show that in its ancestry occurred a manuscript which omitted cc. 15, 16 seems to have failed.

III. A variation of text, which has to be considered at the same time as the above, occurs in GF. In Romans 1:7; Romans 1:15 ἐν Ῥώμῃ is omitted by Gg (F defective), 47 margin (note on Romans 1:7). Some support has been sought for this omission in Origen and Ambrosiaster (Lightfoot), but without sufficient grounds. Zahn (Exc. I.) considers the reading to be original.

Origen’s testimony is contained in the following passage from Rufinus’ translation x. 43, Vol. VII., p. 453 ed. Lomm.

Caput hoc Marcion, a quo Scripturae Evangelicae atque Apostolicae interpolatae sunt, de hac epistola penitus abstulit; et non solum hoc, sed et ab eo loco, ubi scriptum est: “omne autem quod non est ex fide peccatum est:” usque ad finem cuncta dissecuit. In aliis vero exemplaribus, id est, in his quae non sunt a Marcione temerata, hoc ipsum caput diverse positum invenimus. In nonnullis etenim codicibus post eum locum, quem supra diximus, hoc est: “omne autem peccatum est”: statim cohaerens habetur “ei autem qui potens est vos confirmare.” Alii vero codices in fine id, ut nunc est positum, continent. Sed iam veniamus ad capituli hujus explanationem.

These statements, always with reserve as to the accuracy of Rufinus, have usually been taken to show that Origen had before him

1. Marcion’s Apostolicon, omitting the whole of cc. 15, 16.

2. Some Codices independent of Marcion, which included these chapters but put the doxology after Romans 14:23.

3. Other Codices, which he accepted, which put it at the end, in its present place. But Hort, reading ‘non solum hic sed et in eo loco,’ interprets this statement as to Marcion to mean that he omitted the doxology in both places, and to have no reference to the rest of cc. 15, 16. Zahn takes ‘dissecuit’ to mean ‘mutilated or tore to shreds’ (in contrast with ‘penitus abstulit’) and regards the statement as attributing to Marcion the omission of the doxology and the mutilation of 15, 16 by corrections and omissions.

Hort’s suggestion has not been adopted by other critics. Zahn’s translation seems hardly adequate to the phrase “usque ad finem cuncta.”

This testimony of Origen is probably to be supplemented from Jerome on Ephesians 3:5 (Vallarsi, vol. VII., p. 591 b) that the doxology is found “in plerisque codicibus.” Hort (Lft, B. E., p. 332) gives reasons for thinking that Jerome is here drawing upon Origen’s commentary and therefore that we have again indirect evidence from Origen of the omission of the doxology being due to Marcion.

We have, then, evidence that in Origen’s time there were three forms of the text.

(a) Marcion’s text = 1–14:23 (or 1–14:23 + 15, Romans 16:23 [24] altered).

(b) Nonnulli codices = 1–14:23, Romans 16:25; Romans 16:27; Romans 16:15, Romans 16:1-23.

(c) Codices used by Origen = 1–16:27 (= W. H.).

There is no existing textual support for (a). But

(a) Marcion’s text + 15, Romans 16:1-23 is the text of GFg.

(b) is supported by the MSS given above I 2. ii.

(c) is supported by the MSS given above I 1. ii.

There is therefore very strong MSS authority for preferring (c). But the question arises how the various changes came about.

Marcion’s text is generally explained as due to the principles on which he revised the Gospels and Epistles. There is some difference of opinion as to whether he had any textual authority behind him.

Of the other variations three principal accounts have been given:

1. Lightfoot (Bibl. Essays, p. 287, 1893) holds that S. Paul himself made two recensions of his Epistle; (i) the original letter = 1–16:23 sent from Corinth to Rome, (ii) a second edition altered to form a circular letter to a number of Churches unnamed, either late in or after the Roman imprisonment = 1–14:23 + the doxology, written for a conclusion, and omitting ἐν Ῥώμῃ in Romans 1:7; Romans 1:15. This letter was in circulation, and afterwards was completed by the addition of 15–16:23 [24]. Against this theory it is argued [1] that no sign of the existence of this letter remains, though such might have been expected in the case of a circular letter addressed to various localities, unless the obscure testimony of the Capitulations can be alleged: [2] that it is inconceivable that S. Paul himself could have made a division after Romans 14:23, the argument being continuous to Romans 15:13 (S. H.): [3] that the argument which Lightfoot himself bases on the uniqueness of the doxology in its present place as a conclusion holds with much greater effect against its position in the circular letter as conceived by him. These objections though of various weight are conclusive.

2. Hort holds that the W. H. text represents the original letter: that for purposes of reading in church cc. 15, 16 were omitted, and the doxology placed at the end of Romans 14:23 : that the position of the doxology in church lections caused certain scribes to place it here, and either to duplicate or to omit at Romans 16:23.

3. Zahn argues that the original position of the doxology was at Romans 14:23. He bases this position on internal grounds: [1] the absence of a doxology at the end in all other epistles of S. Paul, [2] the anacoluthic character (leg. ) of the doxology implies a strength of emotion which is unlikely after the list of salutations, [3] its close connexion with the argument of Romans 14:1 to Romans 15:13, [4] the confusion of text (in connexion with the benediction) at Romans 16:20; Romans 16:23 can only be explained by the intrusion of the doxology, [5] its transference from after Romans 16:24 to Romans 14:23 cannot be accounted for. Some of these arguments are unsubstantial: [3] would be strong if the doxology occurred after Romans 15:13 : but the interruption of the argument, if it is placed at Romans 14:23, is strongly against this theory as it is against Lightfoot’s.

4. S. H. differ from the above by giving an influential position to Marcion’s text. They hold that (i) the original text was that of W. H., (ii) Marcion cut off the last two chapters including the doxology partly on doctrinal grounds partly as unimportant for edification, (iii) Marcion’s text, 1–14:23 om. also ἐν Ῥώμῃ, Romans 1:7; Romans 1:15, had a considerable circulation and influence, (iv) for Church use it was supplemented by addition of the doxology 1–14:23 + Romans 16:25-27 (so arriving at Lightfoot’s second recension), (v) this form of the Epistle was then supplemented by scribes by the addition of 15, Romans 16:1-23, and in some cases by the addition of 15, Romans 16:1-27, with a duplicate doxology. This explanation gets over the difficulty of the break at Romans 14:23 by attributing it to Marcion’s doctrinal objection to parts of 15 (e.g. Romans 15:8). It rests mainly upon the assertion of the influence of Marcion’s Apostolicon.

On the whole it seems to give the simplest explanation of a very complicated problem.

5. Lake (Expositor, Dec. 1910) offers another explanation. He establishes the existence of a short recension 1–14:23 + Romans 16:25-27 and argues that this recension omitted ἐν Ῥώμῃ in c. 1. The evidence for this recension is carried back [1] to the European type of the Old Latin Version (to which the capitulations of Cod. Amiat. are assigned), [2] to the African type of the same version, as evidenced by the fact that Cyprian fails to quote from cc. 15, 16, and Tertullian adv. Marc. also omits all references to those chapters, although Marcion must either have omitted or mutilated them (see Origen, qu. above): and [3] is supported by the evidence of MSS which have Romans 16:25-27 after Romans 14:23, on the ground that the doxology must naturally come at the end of the Epistle. He argues that the two recensions were both current till Cyprian’s time; and that the doxology was placed after Romans 16:23, when the two were combined (Alexandrian MSS in Origen’s time, Ambrosiaster and Jerome). It follows that no MS is preserved which has either recension in its original form.

His theory of the recension is that the short recension preceded the long, both being due to S. Paul himself. The short recension was written as a circular letter, a companion to Galatians (as Ephesians to Colossians), and this circular letter and Galatians were written considerably earlier than 1 Cor. In his winter sojourn at Corinth, S. Paul wishing to send to Rome a statement of his Gospel sent this circular letter with the addition of 15, Romans 16:1-23, and the insertion of ἐν Ῥώμῃ in c. 1, to give it special application to the Christians at Rome.

This hypothesis is clearly very attractive. The textual criticism on which it is founded is comprehensive and strong. The absence of direct documentary evidence for the short recension may be partly accounted for by the lack of Old Latin evidence for the Epistle. But the difficulty besetting any theory which ends the Epistle, in one of its forms, at Romans 14:23, is peculiarly strongly felt in this theory. The argument is brought to an abrupt conclusion, and it is really unfinished. Yet in a circular letter, accompanying Galatians, most of all should we expect the argument to be finished off and summed up. The abruptness of the conclusion is only emphasised by the doxology, or the grace and the doxology, supposed to follow immediately on 23. In fact in any theory of the textual variations, it ought to be regarded as fundamental that the separation between Romans 14:23 and Romans 15:1-13 must have been due to violent interference with the original text—either of definite mutilation on doctrinal grounds, or of a mechanical arrangement for purposes of Church use.

The references for this discussion are Lightfoot, Biblical Essays [1893], Zahn, Einl. § 22, S. H. Romans LXXXV f., Westcott and Hort, Appendix ad lo[357]., Kirsopp Lake, Expositor, Dec. 1910.


Two other questions have been raised as to these chapters, on internal grounds.

1. The doxology is said to belong, in style and thought, to a later period of S. Paul’s writings than that of the Epistle to the Romans. Lightfoot accepted this view and supported it by a close comparison with the Epistle to the Ephesians (Biblical Essays, 317 f.) and the Pastoral Epistles: and met it by attributing the doxology to a recension made by S. Paul himself at a later period (see above). Hort met this argument by pointing out [1] the close correspondence of the doxology with the main thoughts and object of the Epistle, [2] the correspondence of the language and thought with particular expressions and conceptions found in Romans, 1 Corinthians (esp. c. 2.), Galatians , 1 and 2 Thes. (l.c[358] p. 327 f.). I have followed S. H. in adopting Hort’s position here (see notes). The fact seems to be that the doxology sums up in terse and comprehensive form the positive view, which S. Paul had reached, of the relation of Jew and Gentile in Christ to each other and to GOD, as seen in relation to the whole purpose of GOD for man in creation and redemption. The Epistle to the Romans, as a whole, is a positive exposition of this theme, and so concludes the great period of strife through which S. Paul and the Gentile Churches had been passing. In the later Epistles, especially Ephesians and Colossians, this position is assumed as settled and made the basis for further teaching both positive and polemical on the nature and place of the Christian Society. It is not, therefore, unnatural that the language in which here S. Paul sums up the position should be represented, both in earlier Epistles where the main thought crops out, and still more in the later, where it is the foundation of additional superstructure. The doxology is, in this very important sense, a link between the two groups of Epistles.

2. Some commentators have found a difficulty in the list of salutations in Romans 16:3-16; and have argued that this must be a fragment of a letter addressed to the Church at Ephesus. There is no external evidence for separating these verses from the rest of cc. 15, 16. As to the internal evidence it has been sufficiently shown by Lightfoot (Philippians, pp. 171–178, Caesar’s Household) and S. H. (notes ad lo[359].), that both as regards individual names and groups, and in view of the combination of Roman, Greek and Jewish names, a strong case can be made out for Rome, and to some extent against Ephesus. These authorities I have followed, both in this matter and in regard to the presence of Aquila and Priscilla at Rome (see notes).

It may be further pointed out that in none of his Epistles addressed to Churches of his own founding does S. Paul send salutations to any individuals by name. Only in one case (1 Corinthians 16:19) does he send to such a Church a salutation by name from individuals in his own company: and there the salutation is from the group centring round Aquila and Priscilla. In Col., written to a Church he had not visited, he sends salutations from six of his companions by name, and names two members of the Colossian Church, one for greeting, one for warning. The unexpected fact comes out that in writing to Churches which he knew intimately S. Paul’s practice was to suppress all names. So far as this argument goes, then, it is against c. 16 being addressed to Ephesus, and in favour of its being addressed to Rome. Nor is the reason far to seek; where he knew intimately large numbers, selection would be difficult if not invidious. On the other hand, where he knew few, he would lay stress on this acquaintance, as qualifying his want of familiarity with the Church as a whole.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Romans:4 Overview". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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