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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Romans 1



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. Παῦλος. Here, Gal., Gal., Ephesians , 1 and 2 Tim., no colleague is mentioned.

δοῦλος in the address here and Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1, only; cf. James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Judges 1:1; Revelation 1:1; cf. also Galatians 1:10; Colossians 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:24. The most absolute term for service, countenanced by our Lord Himself, cf. Matthew 20:27 and n. John 15:15; cf. Isaiah 49:3 f.; Jeremiah 7:25, alibi Regular O. T. term for prophets. Here adopted by S. Paul for himself, and the name, . Χρ., substituted for Jehovah; cf. S. H.

Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The personal relation is the foundation of the Christian stat whether of the apostle or of his readers (Romans 1:6). Ἰης., the personal name, emphasises, as always, the human mission of the Lord, its character and object. Χρ., the official name, emphasises the position in the history of GOD’s dealings with men, and the divine commission. N. the fourfold repetition Romans 1:1; Romans 1:4; Romans 1:6-7 and cf. 1 Corinthians 1:1-9.

κλητὸς ἀπόστολος. Romans 1:7, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις: cf. 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 only. This group καλεῖν, κλῆσις, κλητός is characteristic of Pauline writings; Revelation 17:14 only in John. Evv. only Matthew 9:13 |[49]. They describe the call to service, whether accepted or rejected. The emphasis is on the invitation given, Galatians 1:1; cf. Matthew 22:3 f. |[50]. See further n. on Romans 8:28. The added word describes the nature of the service required.

ἀπόστολος in its widest sense—a commissioned agent—then further defined in the following phrases. The nexus throughout the passage is by development of the implicit meaning into explicit statements, words forming the base of expanding thoughts. The name in its Christian use is derived from the Lord Himself, Mark 3:14 = Luke 6:13. See Add. Note H.

ἀφωρισμένος. Cf. Galatians 1:15 : repeats and enlarges the idea of κλητός = separation from all other human relations for this single purpose of absolute service to the commission when the call came. It is a characteristic O. T. expression for the relation of Israel to GOD (as the κλητός); cf. the word Pharisee, of which it appears to be an assonant rendering.

εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ. As the call and separation are of GOD, so is the object, GOD’S Gospel.

For the spread of the Gospel as the aim of Christian service cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Philippians 1:5; Philippians 2:22; Philippians 4:3; Galatians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 9:12; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 10:14; 2 Timothy 1:8; below, Romans 15:16; Romans 15:19 alibi The O.T. connexion is with the use of εὐαγγελίζεσθαι in Isaiah 40 f., esp. 61; cf. Luke 4:18. It is the Lord’s own word for His message, Mark 1:15; Mark 8:35 and Luke 4:43 alibi

The phrase is anarthrous only here (cf. Revelation 14:6), and so emphasises the character of the object—for propagating good tidings of and from GOD.

On the word see Thayer and S. H. and Dalman, p. 102.

Verses 1-17

A. Romans 1:1-17. INTRODUCTION. ADDRESS 1–7. OCCASION 8–15. SUBJECT 16–17.

1–7. Address. The writer’s (a) name and state, (b) office, (c) commission defined by a statement of (i) the Person from whom it was received, (ii) the Person of whom it dealt and through whom it came, (iii) the persons to whom it was directed, and is now in particular addressed, (d) greeting.

Verse 2

2. ὃ κ.τ.λ. This message is continuous with GOD’S earlier revelation and fulfils it, cf. Hebrews 1:1-2.

προεπηγγείλατο., 2 Corinthians 9:5 only; cf. Romans 15:4; Galatians 3:8; 1 Peter 1:10; for the converse cf. Ephesians 1:12.

διὰ τῶν πρ. α. ἐν γρα. . The fulness of the expression suggests that Gentiles are specially addressed: not simply ‘the prophets,’ but the prophets whom He inspired, whose utterances are preserved in writings which reproduce in their degree the divine character of the inspiration (ἁγίαις). It is the same GOD who used the prophets and now uses Paul, and for the same object.

γραφαῖς ἁγίαις, the permanent record of revelation; cf. Romans 16:26; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20. Anarthrous, expressing the nature of the means by which the utterances of GOD are revealed, stating that there are scriptures, not appealing to the scriptures as known. Perhaps the earliest extant instance of the use of the phrase. The argument from prophecy was from the first addressed to Gentiles: cf. Acts 8:28; Acts 10:43; Acts 24:14. So with the Apologists great stress is laid on prophecy.

Verse 3

3. περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ. ‘His Son’ is the subject of GOD’S Gospel promised beforehand—the words go with the whole preceding clause taken as one idea; their meaning is developed in the participial clauses following, which are strictly parallel and explain the twofold character or nature in which ‘His Son’ was revealed to men, on the human side (κατὰ σάρκα) as the son of David, on the divine side (κατὰ πν. ἁγ.) as Son of GOD. Both characters are a fulfilment of prophecy, and together form the fundamental content of the Gospel. The article marks the uniqueness of the relation, ct[53], Hebrews 1:2. The aorists of the participles point to two definite historic acts, the interpretation of which is the key to the mystery which makes ‘His Son’ the subject of GOD’S Gospel. The consequence of the implied argument is then summed up in the full title . Χ. τ. κ. .

τοῦ γενομένουκατὰ σάρκα. For γεν. cf. Philippians 2:7; Galatians 4:4; John 1:14. The entry into a new kind of existence is implied in all these passages: the special kind is marked here and Joh. l.c[54] as κατὰ σάρκα, that is, existence as a man, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπου (Phil.), ἐκ γυναικός (Gal.), σάρξ here stands for human nature as such, including all that belongs to it (cf. 1 Timothy 3:16), and not ‘flesh’ as contrasted with ‘spirit’; cf. Westcott on John 1:14, Thayer, s.v[55] 3.

ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυείδ. The Davidic descent is referred to as marking the fulfilment of prophecy: a commonplace in the primitive argument; cf. Acts 2:29 f., Acts 13:34 f.; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 3:7 (v. Swete); Mark 12:35.

Verse 4

4. τοῦ ὁρισθέντος, “who was distinguished, from His brethren κατὰ σάρκα, as GOD’S Son by an act of power,” closely |[56], Acts 17:31, ἐν ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὥρισεν κ.τ.λ., “by a man whom He marked out or distinguished for that office, by the warrant of raising Him from death.” The fundamental notion of ὁρίζειν is to distinguish or mark off one object from others by drawing a line between them: so of local boundaries, of definitions, of appointments to specific work or office, of discriminations. Here, as in Acts l.c[57], the line is drawn by the act of GOD in raising Jesus from the dead; that marked Him off from other men and indicated consequently His true character as, not David’s son only, but Son of GOD. N. then that the word does not imply that He then became Son of GOD, as γενόμενος implies that He became man, but that His unique Sonship then became clear to men. Cf. also Acts 11:29 with Field’s note. Chrys. δειχθέντος, ἀποφανθέντος comes near to the meaning but does not express so fully the action of GOD.

Contrast ἔθηκε, Hebrews 1:2; γενόμενος, Romans 1:3, Hebrews 6:20; Colossians 1:18; ἐποίησεν, Acts 2:36; ἐχαρίσατο, Philippians 2:9. These verbs can be used when it is a question of office and relation to man, but not of nature and relation to GOD.

υἱοῦ θεοῦ, anarthrous, as marking the character, not the individual merely.

ἐν δυνάμει, ‘by an act of power’; cf. Acts 2:33, τῇ δεξιᾷ = by His mighty Hand; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 1:19-20; Hebrews 7:16. The resurrection of Jesus was an exercise of GOD’S power, unique but inevitable, Jesus being who He was, unique but the warrant of consequent exercise of the same power on men in Christ; cf. also Philippians 3:10. The phrase goes closely with ὁρισθέντος; for ἐν cf. 1 Peter 1:5 (v. Hort); Romans 15:13; Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:5; 2 Corinthians 6:7.

κατὰ πν. ἁγιωσύνης. κατὰ indicates the correspondence of this act of GOD with the nature of Him on whom it was exercised. It was natural that, Jesus being what He was, GOD should raise Him from the dead; cf. Acts 2:24. It follows that πν. ἁγ. refers to the divine nature of Jesus, in contrast with σάρξ which indicates His true human nature. This divine nature is properly indicated by the genitive of quality. ἅγιος is the specific word in the Greek Bible for that which is essentially divine. It is used secondarily of persons and things as related to or belonging to GOD, cf. Hort, 1 Pet. p. 70; Davidson, O.T. Theology, pp. 256 ff.; Hebrews 9:14 (with Westcott’s note). The a[58] sense of the article shows that we are dealing with the nature of the Son Himself.

ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν. The raising of Christ is the testimony of GOD to His nature; cf. Acts 1:22; Acts 2:24 et passim; 1 Corinthians 15:14 alibi With ὁρισθέντος—the distinction was the immediate result of resurrection; cf. closely Acts 26:23. The phrase ἀν. ν. (without articles, limited to Acts [4], Rom. (here), 1 Corinthians 15 [3], Hebrews 6:2) describes most generally the fact and its nature = resurrection from death. νεκρῶν is gen. of definition, distinguishing this ἀνάστασις from other kinds (cf. Luke 2:34; Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 7:15; Acts 7:37 alibi).

. Χρ. τ. κ. . The full title sums up the argument implicit in the preceding clauses: the Son of GOD is the Man Jesus, the promised Christ, our Sovereign Lord, the one subject of the Gospel; cf. esp. Acts 2:36, Philippians 2:11. It occurs about 68 times in S. Paul, about 19 in the rest of N.T.

Verse 5

5. δι' οὗ. He who is the subject of the Gospel is also the agent through whom GOD dispenses those powers which enable men to minister the Gospel; cf. John 1:17; Galatians 1:1.

ἐλάβομεν. The subject of Romans 1:1 is recovered—the apostolic commission exercised under the Lord. The aorist refers to the act by which the commission was given; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 15:8-9; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11. The plural = we Christian apostles (ct[61] τῶν προφητῶν α.) as 1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:12. But S. Paul certainly uses the plural with direct, though perhaps not exclusive, reference to himself, e.g. 2 Corinthians 10 passim; Moulton, p. 86.

Χάριν καὶ ἀποστολήν. The close connexion of the words, and the immediate context, prove that χάρις is here used in the specially Pauline sense of the favour of GOD as extended to all mankind, with especial reference to S. Paul’s commission to the Gentiles, cf. Galatians 1:15 f., a decisive parallel; Galatians 2:7 f. cf. Robinson, Eph. pp. 224 ff., “the freeness and universality of the Gospel.” S. Paul felt that his commission was a signal instance of GOD’S free favour. Cf. also Romans 15:15; Philippians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 15:10. ἀποστολή = commission.

εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως, to promote obedience (to GOD) springing from or belonging to faith in Him (not from keeping of law). The phrase corresponds to εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ in Romans 1:1 and indicates the attitude of recipients of the Gospel; their faith accepts and brings them to obey Him who reveals Himself in the Gospel as their GOD. The genitive is then a genitive of ‘derivation or foundation’ as in Romans 4:13; cf. Hort, 1 Pet. p. 89 (see the whole note). With ὑπακοή the genitive seems never to be objective in N.T. (not even 2 Corinthians 10:5). Obedience will be the sign of the coming in of the Gentiles as disobedience was the cause of the rejection of Israel; cf. Romans 10:21; Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 66:4. It is the proper outcome of faith, the acceptance of GOD’s offer; cf. 1 Peter 1:2.

ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. Cf. Romans 15:12; Romans 16:26 = Gentiles: the πᾶσιν added to emphasise the universality of the commission, cf. 13.

ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, i.e. of the Lord Jesus Christ. The name, both in O.T. and N.T., stands for the Person as revealed for man’s acknowledgment; cf. Acts 9:15. 3 John 1:7 (where see Westcott’s add. note) is an exact parallel; Acts 5:41; Acts 9:16; Acts 21:13, of suffering on behalf of the Name they proclaimed. The full force comes out Philippians 2:9-11. The idea, not the word, is present 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20. ὑπὲρ then = to gain acknowledgment of Him as revealed.

Verse 6

6. ἐν οἷς κ.τ.λ. A hint of the reason of his writing to them. Cf. Romans 1:13.

καὶ ὑμεῖς. Throughout the Epistle S. Paul primarily considers Gentile Christians.

κλητοὶ Ἰ. Χρ. Called to belong to Jesus Christ, |[62] κλητὸς ἀπόστολος, Romans 1:1, and κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, Romans 1:7. The genitive stands for an adjective, e.g. Χριστίανοι.

Verse 7

7. πᾶσιν κ.τ.λ. The local designation comes first, then the foundation of their state in GOD’S love, then the demand thus made on them for response.

All Christians in Rome are addressed, whatever their previous history.

ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ, ‘GOD’S beloved’: a unique phrase, but cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, and with ἅγιοι, Colossians 3:12. GOD’s love for them is the beginning, the call follows, and it is a call to respond to that love by a life consecrated to GOD cf. Ephesians 5:1.

κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, called to be holy, as GOD is holy; cf. 1 Peter 1:15-16 (see Hort). Constructed as κλητὸς ἀπόστολος above. See note on ἁγιωσύνης, Romans 1:4.

Χάρις ὑ. κ.τ.λ. The words, while reminding of the common forms of salutation, have their full Christian sense. GOD’s favour and the peace which it brings between man and GOD, and between man and man, is the prayer of S. Paul for his readers. The stress is thrown on χάρις by the interposition of ὑμῖν.

ἀπὸ θ. π. . κ. κ. . Χρ. S. Paul’s regular form except Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1 (2 Thessalonians 1:2, ἡμῶν is absent), till the Pastoral Epistles. Note that here the Lord Jesus Christ is coordinated with GOD our Father as the source of blessing (in Romans 1:5 He is the Agent of the Father’s blessing): this coordination is highly significant; it appears in its clearest form already in Epp. Thes. (n. esp. 1 Thessalonians 3:11, 2 Thessalonians 1:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:16): it combines the Christian experience and conviction as to the Person of the Lord with the Lord’s own teaching as to the Fatherhood of GOD into the theological conception which (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:13) was ultimately expressed in the Catholic dogma of the Trinity. See S. H. ad lo[63]. For a Jew the position is already implied in the first phrase δοῦλος Ἰ. Χρ.

These introductory verses thus lay the foundations of the Gospel in the nature and act of GOD as revealed through His Son—a fitting introduction to an Epistle which is in fact a reasoned exposition of the Gospel as preached to Gentiles by S. Paul. The main theological conceptions are here stated or implied in a fully developed form, but as attained through religious experience, not deduced or even interpreted by any philosophical method. In full accordance with all other evidence as to the primitive development of Christian thought, these conceptions are seen to be reached by the reflection upon the fact of the Resurrection and the light thrown back from that fact on the teaching, acts, and character of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 8

8. εὐχαριστῶ. S. Paul follows his greeting always with thanksgiving or blessing (εὐλογητός), except in Gal. (θαυμάζω) and 1 Tim., Tit. Peculiar to this place are μου (exc. Philippians 1:3) and διὰ Ἰ. Χρ. This fulness of phrase corresponds to the fulness of statement in 1–7.

περὶ πάντων ὑ. Cf. πᾶσιν in Romans 1:5; Romans 1:7.

ἡ πίστις ὑ. καταγγ. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; Philemon 1:5. καταγγ., a weighty word, otherwise used only of the Gospel itself or some element in it (only Acts and Paul, 1 Cor., Phil., Col.). ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ, a not unnatural exaggeration: he is writing from Corinth, the great commercial junction of the Empire.

Verses 8-17

8–17. Thanksgiving 8–10 a introduces the Occasion 10 b–15 and the Subject 16–17 of the Epistle.

He gives thanks to GOD for the wide report of their faith as heartily as [9] his prayers for them have been unceasing and [10] have embodied his eagerness to see them, [11] to help them and be helped by them, by the faith which each finds in the other; his prayers resulted in definite plans, hindered so far, to go to Rome and win fruit there also, by way of paying his debt, due to them as to others, of preaching the Gospel. He has been always ready to do this, for he has ‘no shame’ for the Gospel: it is an effective act of GOD’s power promoting salvation for all men, on the one condition of faith; because it reveals the true nature of GOD’s righteousness in men as starting from faith and leading to faith, in accordance with a fundamental declaration of the old dispensation.

Verse 9

9. γὰρ introduces the personal reasons for his writing. He establishes personal relations with his readers before communicating his message, as he bases his commission on personal relations with the Lord. Cf. Colossians 1:3 ff. (the other unvisited church to which he wrote); 2 Timothy 1:3. Note also the force of Romans 15:14-30.

μάρτυςὁ θεὸς κ.τ.λ. This form of emphatic assertion is specially used by S. Paul (only), when asserting the state of his own mind, 2 Corinthians 1:23; Philippians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:10; cf. Wisdom of Solomon 1:6; and is no doubt occasioned by the misrepresentations of his motives made by opponents.

ᾧ λατρεύω κ.τ.λ. adds emphasis by express assertion of his wholehearted devotion to GOD’s service.

λατρεύω. cf. Westcott on Hebr. p. 232, “marks the service of perfect subjection to a sovereign power”; uniformly expresses religious service, voluntarily offered.

ἐν τῷ πνεύματί μου. The service rendered is spiritual, not ritual (cf. Philippians 3:3), and offered by means of the central function of man’s personality. The connexion seems to be, the Gospel absorbs my activity in the service of GOD, and it is therefore easy to understand my interest in you.

ἐν τ. εὐ. τ. υ. α. The sphere of activity: GOD’s Gospel (Romans 1:1) is also the Gospel of His Son, whose name is its epitome (Romans 1:5) and who Himself is the author and commissioner (Romans 1:5).

ὡς, how. μνείαν ὑ. ποι., make mention of; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:2, Ephesians 1:16 alibi; always of prayer.

Verse 10

10. ἐπὶ, at. δεόμενος εἴ πως. Cf. Acts 8:22; cf. Blass, p. 216. ἤδη ποτὲ, at long last.

εὐοδωθήσομαι, “in passive always tropical; to prosper, be successful,” Thayer; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 3 John 1:2; but cf. Sept., Judges 18:5; Tobit 5:21; Tobit 11:5; so S. H. adopt early English vv., “I have a spedi way.”

Verse 11

11. ἵνα τι μεταδῶ κ.τ.λ. The complex order and the indefinite τιχάρισμα give a half apologetic tone to this expression of his object, leading at once to the correction τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν—if he benefits them they will also help him. χάρισμα, a concrete instance of GOD’s χάρις, a gift of GOD. Cf. perhaps 1 Thessalonians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 1:11, suggesting that the particular gift is a fuller realisation of the Gospel, in thought and life, at once appealing to and stimulating their spirit, and particularly in its universal character; cf. below Romans 15:15; Romans 15:29.

εἰς τὸ στ. This gift will be to their strengthening, or rather to the common encouragement of writer and readers.

Verse 12

12. συνπαρ., only here. ἐν (cf. ἐπί, 2 Corinthians 7:7), no |[65], = in my feelings about you.

διὰ τῆς ἐν ἀλλήλοις κ.τ.λ. πίστις has its regular meaning, faith in GOD through Christ, ἐν ἀλλ., which we each find in the other: he piles up phrases to emphasise the reciprocity of benefit (συν., ἐν ἀλλ., . κ. .).

Verse 13

13. προεθἐμην. He had got beyond prayers; he had made definite plans, but had been hindered by the exigencies of his work.

τινὰ καρπὸν, again the apologetic τις. σχῶ, ‘get,’ as always.

Verse 14

14. The thought of the service he wished to render and the fruit he hoped to gain leads on to the statement of the motive and the theme of the Epistle. He has already got ‘fruit,’ and so is in debt to men of all classes and culture, and would wish to preach in Rome that he may be debtor to them too. This connexion is indicated by the asyndeton.

Ἕλλησίν τε καὶ βαρβάροις. Cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11 (Lightfoot’s note); this is the division of mankind current among the inhabitants of the Empire, primarily depending upon language. It excludes, in Paul’s mind, the Jew. In speaking of his debt, he thinks only of Gentiles: presently in speaking of the range of the Gospel, he includes Jews. The Romans would now be included among Ἕλληνες: cf. Lightfoot, l.c[66] p. 217 b.

σοφοῖς τε καὶ ἀνοήτοις, a classification by culture; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18 f.: n. he was writing from Corinth.

ὀφειλέτης. Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:16 f. (Giff.); a debtor, he wishes to pay the debt in Rome too. But in what sense a debtor? Ramsay (Pauline Studies, p. 55) suggests that this is a reference to what he had gained from his intercourse with Greets and his position as a Roman citizen. This he felt should be repaid by bringing to them the Gospel. But this seems farfetched. Nor does Giff.’s reference to 1 Corinthians 9:16 seem quite satisfactory. It is best taken in close connexion with καρπὸν σχῶ; cf. Philippians 4:17. He has already ‘got fruit’ from these classes: he pays the debt by sowing the seed more widely among such.

Verse 15

15. τὸ κατ' ἐμὲ, subject to πρόθυμον, sc. ἐστιν. So far as I have to do with the matter—ref. to ἐκωλύθην, Romans 1:13; cf. τὰ κατ' ἐμὲ, Philippians 1:12.

Verse 16

16. ἐπαισχύνομαι. Cf. Mark 8:38; 2 Timothy 1:8. There is no lack of readiness, because there is no need of reserve; the Gospel is its own vindication. The tremendous opposition he had lately experienced, especially at Corinth, seems to be in his mind.

δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ κ.τ.λ. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18 f. The Gospel is not a mere message whose ineffectiveness might shame the preacher: it is GOD’s power for producing salvation. It is in fact GOD’s word sent out into the world with mighty effect; cf. Acts 10:36 : it reveals and provides a power for man to enable him to live the life which GOD means for him. It was a critical matter for S. Paul to show that in sweeping away law, as the condition of salvation, he was not destroying the one source of moral growth, that he was not antinomian, but setting free a new and mightier form of spiritual and moral health than any legal system did or could provide. The whole of this Epistle is directed to show that the Gospel alone provides and is such a power. This thought is developed in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; cf. also 1 Corinthians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 4:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; (Hebrews 7:16).

Tr. ‘GOD’s power for salvation’ closely together = GOD’s effective means for saving men. The insertion of the article in A.V. and R.V. only weakens the force of the expression. There are other manifestations of GOD’s power; cf. Romans 1:20.

σωτηρίαν includes deliverance from the slavery of sin and full spiritual and moral health. See S. H. for the development of meaning. “It covers the whole range of the Messianic deliverance, both in its negative aspect as a rescuing from the Wrath … and in its positive aspect as the imparting of eternal life” (Mark 10:30 |[67]; John 3:15-16, etc.); cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11; ib[68] p. 24. Cf. Psalms 98:2. It is a pity that the two adequate English translations health and wealth are both spoiled by custom, and we have to fall back upon the Latin ‘salvation.’

παντὶ τῷ πιστεὑοντι. For the connexion of. John 1:12. The range of the power is universal, both as proceeding from GOD who is one and also as offered on the single condition of faith, a common human faculty. The condition is stated here in its most absolute form, but the context shows that it means trust in GOD who gives the power through His Son. Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32 et passim show that from the first this trust was the recognised distinction of Christians; from belief of the message its meaning rapidly developed into trust in the Person, who was Himself the message, and in GOD as revealed in the Person. So the aorist of the verb = to become a Christian; cf. Acts 19:2 : οἱ πιστεύοντες and πεπιστευκότες name Christians. It is in fact the response of the heart to the love of GOD, the source of the power. The basis of the Gospel as active in life is thus the personal relation between GOD and man in Christ. See Introd. p. xxxviii f.

Ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι. The πρῶτον marks the historical sequence of revelation, consistently recognised by S. Paul. Cf. Romans 3:1, Romans 9:1 f., Romans 11:16 f., Romans 15:8-9; Acts 13:46; John 4:22; Matthew 15:24; S. H. add Acts 28:24 f. The summing up of all mankind under the two religious divisions is the natural expression for a Jewish writer.

Verse 17

17. γὰρ. The Gospel is GOD’s power, with this wide range and single condition, because in it GOD’s righteousness (which man needs if he is to answer to his true destiny) is revealed for man’s acceptance as beginning, as far as the human condition is concerned, from faith and promoting faith.

δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, not ‘a righteousness of GOD,’ but’ GOD’s righteousness,’ i.e. righteousness as belonging to the character of GOD and consequently required by Him in the character of men: so distinguished from any righteousness which man sets up for himself and thinks to acquire by himself; cf. Romans 10:3; Philippians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4:24; 1 John 2:29; Matthew 6:33; and below, Romans 6:13 f. Cf. S. H. “It is righteousness active and energizing; the righteousness of the Divine Will as it were projected and enclosing and gathering into itself human wills.” Cf. Psalms 18:2 ib[69]

This ‘righteousness’ is in fact man’s σωτηρία, true state of health; and the Gospel, revealing it as following upon faith, puts it in the power of every faithful man to reach. Hence the Gospel is GOD’s power, etc.

As the σωτηρία is that state of man in which he has made his own the righteousness of GOD and so worked out in himself that image of GOD (cf. John 1:12) in which he was created, so we shall presently see the converse is true—the damnation, destruction, of man lies in his forsaking that task and reproducing in himself the image of the beasts.

ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, resulting, as far as the individual is concerned, from faith and promoting faith. It is of the nature of personal trust in one who is worthy of trust to deepen and widen itself. Psalms 83:7 (Psalms 84:8) (S. H.) is a good |[70]: but 2 Corinthians 2:16 (ib[71]) is different. It is important to observe that man’s faith is the source of man’s righteousness only in a secondary degree. The primary source is GOD’s grace.

ἀποκαλύπτεται. The Gospel is not a new principle in GOD’s dealings with man, but a fresh revelation of what has always been there. This is emphasised by the quotation from Habakkuk, and the argument about Abraham in c. 4.

καθὼς γέγραπται, Habakkuk 2:4. N. that in Hab. the reference is to dangers from external foes and loyalty to Israel’s king. This is a good instance of the way in which S. Paul applies what is occasional and local to the spiritual experience of man.

ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται. The stress is on ἐκ πίστεως—the life which the man seeks to live, modelling himself, in his degree, on the righteousness of GOD, requires and results from trust in GOD.

N. S. Paul seldom reaches such a degree of abstraction in his statements as he does in these verses. It is due to his desire to state in the most summary form the character of the Gospel as he conceived it. But recalling Romans 1:2-7, we see that we are not even here dealing with merely abstract principles: the Gospel itself is essentially concrete in the Person of the Son: the power of GOD is no impersonal force, but Christ Himself quickening men (cf. Philippians 3:12); salvation and faith are no mere technical terms, but personal activities and conditions; GOD’s righteousness is not a system of laws or ethics, but the character revealed in Jesus Christ; our righteousness is that same character realised in ourselves.

Verse 18

18. γὰρ gives the reason for the revelation just described and for the condition of its effectiveness.

ἀποκ. ὀργὴ θεοῦ. The revelation here spoken of is the revelation through the actual facts of human life, just as the Gospel revelation is revelation through the actual facts of the divine life seen in the Man Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Son.

ἀποκαλύπτεται, as above, of a general fact or principle governing the relations between GOD and man.

ὀργὴ θεοῦ, fundamentally = the relation between GOD as righteous and man as sinner. It is seen under present conditions in the progress of sin and growing alienation. The final issue will be seen in the final judgment. As with σωτηρία, so with ὀργή, we have the double sense of present alterable condition, and future final determination. The eschatological reference is, therefore, always implied, but not exclusive; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:16, Lightfoot; John 3:36, Westcott, n.; Ephesians 5:6; infra, Romans 3:5, Romans 9:22. It is opposed to σωτηρία (1 Thessalonians 5:9), ζωή (John 3:36), φώς (Ephesians 5:9). The verb is never used with θεός in N.T., though frequently in O.T. (but cf. Matthew 18:34; Luke 14:21).

ἀπ' οὐρανοῦ, used originally literally and now metaphorically of the seat of GOD’s Presence, and so the place of origin of His judgments and commissions now and hereafter, the home indeed of all spiritual matters; so here the judgment on man’s defections is represented as revealed from thence, in contrast with all earthly opinions and judgments; cf. Matthew 16:19; Matthew 21:25; Luke 15:18. Cf. Dalman, p. 219 f., E.T.

ἀσέβεια, the violation of reverence; ἀδικία, the violation of righteousness: sin is regarded as a contempt of GOD’s claims on man, or as a breach of His will however revealed.

τῶνκατεχόντων. The participial clause describes the action of man which constitutes him ἀσεβῆ and ἄδικον.

τὴν ἀλήθειαν. The next clause shows this to be quite general = the truth or true condition of man in his relation to GOD both the truth of man’s nature and destiny, cf. John 8:32; James 1:18; James 5:19, and of GOD, in His revealed character and dealings; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-13. Cf. Hort on 1 Peter, p. 87.

ἐν ἀδικίᾳ marks the condition created by man himself under which he holds the truth; it is the combination of the possession of the truth and this selfmade condition which constitutes the act and state of sin. All sin is due to will acting against knowledge.

κατεχόντων. κατέχειν means either [1] to possess, 1 Corinthians 7:30; 1 Corinthians 11:2, or [2], less frequently, to restrain or keep under restraint, Luke 4:42; 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. Here the sequence of thought is decisive in favour of the first meaning: it is essential to the argument that the primary condition which makes an act or state sinful, should be set down here; namely, that the sinner knows what he is doing. cf. Origen, Philocal. 73 (ed. Robinson). The compound has the force of real or full possession; cf. Moulton, p. 111 f. Contrast Luke 8:15.

Verses 18-32

Romans 1:18-32. [18] This power and condition revealed in the Gospel meets the need of man; for in the actual state of man we can see that his life lies under GOD’s wrath. Man has by unrighteous action overlaid the truth imparted to him: [20] the knowledge of GOD, communicated through the visible creation as a means of conceiving the invisible character of GOD, His power in life and His divine character, has been rejected; [21] men have failed to respond with appreciation and thanksgiving; losing the sense of their own destiny and submitting their intelligence to the influence of blind reasonings and passions, [22] with a false assumption of cleverness, they have substituted for the image of GOD, in which they were created, the likeness of the mere animal nature. [24] As a consequence, left by GOD to their own devices, under the unclean rule of their own desires, they have taken the false instead of the true view of their due allegiance, substituted in their worship the creature for the Creator, and as a consequence perverted even the natural uses of the body to vile and unnatural indulgence; [28] their will refusing to act upon the knowledge of GOD, GOD has allowed them to surrender themselves to all spiritual and moral ills, personal and social; [32] for they knowingly and willingly faced the verdict of death, and both practise and promote the practice of such things as incur that verdict.

The revelation of the Gospel is the revelation of the righteousness of GOD in the Person of Jesus Christ, and of that righteousness as a power for reproducing itself in man, if man will trust it, or rather Him. This is paralleled by a statement of the consequences of man’s refusing to trust his knowledge of GOD, as seen in the lives and characters of men as they actually are, a revelation of GOD’s wrath; the state of man shows both the need of power for recovery, and the condition in man for its action, namely recovered faith.

As GOD’s righteousness is revealed in life, the Life of Jesus Christ, so GOD’s wrath is revealed in life, the life of men putting themselves into antagonism with GOD, choosing to be under His wrath.

In this section S. Paul summarises his observations of contemporary conditions and generalises from it and from his judgment on history, in order to estimate the actual needs of man and the cause of his condition, as vindicating the character of the Gospel and its universal necessity, if man is to be delivered.

Verse 19

19. διότι gives the reason for the wrath. For (Blass, p. 274) they knew GOD (19–21 a, expanding τὴν ἀλ. κατ.), but did not act on this knowledge (21 b–23, expanding ἐν ἀδικίᾳ.). There should be a full stop or colon after κατεχόντων: as Romans 1:18 introduces the whole section.

τὸ γνωστὸν τ. θ. = that element in or aspect of GOD which can be known. GOD can be known by man only in part: but that partial knowledge is true and adequate to man’s capacity and sufficient and indispensable for his life. He is revealed partially in nature, including human nature, with relative completeness in the Son. For the construction cf. Blass, p. 155, Winer-M., p. 295. This is not a case of the neuter adjective standing for an abstract substantive; the genitive is partitive.

φανερόν ἐ. ἐν αὐτοῖς = ‘is clear in them.’ They have a clear knowledge of GOD so far as He can be known to man. Cf. Wisdom of Solomon 13:1 which S. Paul certainly has in mind; but he defines the situation with a much closer grip.

ὁ θεὸς γὰρ κ.τ.λ. explains the fact of the clearness of this knowledge: it was due to a self-revelation of GOD through creation.

Verse 20

20. τὰ γὰρ ἀόραταθειότης are best treated as parenthetic—explanatory of ἐφανέρωσεν—the revelation of GOD through nature and human nature is true as far as it goes, but it is confined to His power both in nature and in morals, and His character as Divine Ruler and Lawgiver. Cf. generally Luke 18:18 f.

τὰ ἀόρατα αὐτοῦ |[72] τὸ γν. τ. θ.; cf. Acts 14:15 f., Acts 17:22 f. The argument from the natural order was the first argument addressed to Gentiles, as the argument from the O.T. order was the first argument addressed to Jews. The invisible things of GOD, His spiritual and moral attributes, are brought within the range of man’s mental vision through a conception gained by reflection upon the things He has made. There is a play on the double meaning of ὁρᾶν as applied to sensual and mental vision, the transition to the second being marked by νοούμενα; cf. Colossians 1:15 f.; Hebrews 11:27.

ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου, temporal: ever since there was a world to be the object of sense and thought, and minds to feel and think. Not, as Giff., = ἀπὸ τοῦ ἐκτισμένου κόσμου; this would require articles and be tautologous; cf. Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; 2 Peter 3:4.

τοῖς ποιήμασιν, dat. of means. καθορᾶται = are brought within the range of vision.

νοούμενα, being conceived or framed into conceptions, made objects of thought; cf. Isaiah 44:18; qu. John 12:40 : and n. Hebrews 11:3, esp. the connexion of πίστει and νοοῦμεν.

ἥ τε ἀΐδιος α. δύναμις καὶ θειότης explain τὰ ἀόρατα. The primary conceptions of the Maker, formed by reflection upon things, are power and divinity. The fundamental assumption implied is that there must be a Maker—things could not make themselves, and man obviously did not make them. This assumption might well be taken by S. Paul as universally agreed. From that he sees man’s reflection passing to the conception of power, and lasting or spiritual power; the conception of divinity is a further step, logically if not chronologically, first involving hardly more than antithesis to man and nature, but growing more complex with continued reflection; it involves qualitative conceptions of the Maker, not merely quantitative conceptions of His Power. The very abstract term θειότης (only here in N.T.; cf. Acts 17:29 and Wisdom of Solomon 18:9) is used because the conceptions of GOD’s nature vary so widely with time and place. The term covers every conception of a Being, antecedent and superior to creation, which man has formed or can form.

ἀΐδιος. Only here and Judges 1:6 in N.T.; Sept. only Wisdom of Solomon 7:26; frequent in class. Gk for lasting, eternal; e.g. Plato, Timaeus, 40 B, ζῶα θεῖα ὄντα καὶ ἀΐδια.

δύναμις. Esp. used of GOD’S power in creation, old and new. Cf. above, Romans 1:4.

εἰς τὸ may either express ‘purpose’ (Romans 8:29) or simple result (Romans 12:3): here generally taken of ‘purpose,’ in which case it must be connected with ἐφανέρωσεν above. But there is force in Burton’s argument for ‘result’ (M. T. § 411). cf. Moulton, p. 219. N. A.V. and R.V. invert text and margin.

ἀναπολογήτους, Romans 2:1 only. They have no defence as against GOD.

Verse 21

21. διότι picks up and expands the theme of Romans 1:19.

γνόντες, aor. = having received or gained knowledge of GOD. |[73] τὴν ἀλ. κατέχοντες.

ἐδόξασαν = did not ascribe the due honour to GOD for what they knew to be His acts; cf. Acts 11:18; Matthew 15:31, alibi

ηὐχαρίστησαν. They lacked the temper which should have led them δοξάζειν.

ἐματαιώθησαν. V[75] only here; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:20 f., Romans 3:20, and esp. Ephesians 4:17. The adjective implies absence of purpose or object, futility: so = they became μάταιοι, turning from the true object of all thought they invented vain and meaningless objects for themselves.

διαλογισμοί in S. Paul always in a bad sense; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:20, which perhaps gives the source of the use. It seems to imply the working of the intellect without correction by facts; cf. Romans 14:1. ἐν perhaps instrumental—they lost the true thread by their speculations.

καὶ ἐσκοτίσθη κ.τ.λ. Cf. Ephesians 4:17 f., missing the true aim, they lost the true light.

καρδία more nearly corresponds to ‘mind’ than to ‘heart.’ So here ἀσύνετος, unintelligent; cf. Romans 10:6; Romans 10:8. Associated with thought and will (Romans 1:24; 1 Corinthians 4:5) more usually than with feeling (Romans 9:2), see S. H. There is the same tragic irony here as in 1 Corinthians 1:20 f.; cf. Wisdom of Solomon 11:15.

Verse 22

22. φάσκοντες The asyndeton shows that this is an explanation of the preceding sentence. φ. of false allegations, Acts 24:9; Acts 25:19 and here only.

Verse 23

23. ἤλλαξαν. Cf. Psalms 106 [105] 20; cf. infra 25. The consequence of their false conception is a false religion, substituting inferior objects of worship for the one true object. The construction is a survival of poetic usage. Cf. Soph. Antigone 495 (Lietzmann).

τὴν δόξαν. Here apparently = the manifestation of GOD as an object of worship; cf. Romans 1:21. |[76] τὸ γνωστὸν τ. θ. the manifestation of GOD as an object of knowledge.

Verse 24

24. The consequences seen in the moral condition, to which GOD handed man over. Man by ignoring the truth is led to neglect the worship of GOD for the worship of creatures, and thence [24] to failure in due respect to his own body and [26] consequent misuse of the body for unnatural ends, and [28] misapplication of the mind to devising conduct which ignores his own true end and all social claims.

παρέδωκεν ὁ θ. Cf. Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28; cf. Romans 4:25, and for the converse Philippians 2:12. This surrender of man to the consequences of his own choice is also the act of man himself, cf. Ephesians 4:19. But it is still an act of judgment on the part of GOD. See S. H., Giff., Moberly, Atonement and Personality, p. 15 f.

ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τ. κ. α. The desires, uncontrolled by the choice of man’s true end, are the occasions of sin.

τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι. The gen. expressing result, as generally in S. Paul, cf. Moulton, p. 217, = the use of the body for purposes not intended; cf. πάθη ἀτιμίας below, and n. esp. Colossians 2:23 (note in C.G.T.). ἐν αὐτοῖς requires us to take ἀτιμάζεσθαι as pass.

Verse 25

25. οἵτινες. Quippe qui, “seeing that they,” repeats Romans 1:23 with amplification.

τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ θεοῦ. Quite comprehensive = the truth about God and themselves and their relation to Him; so τῷ ψεύδει the false theory or statement of man and GOD which they adopted; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 1 John 2:27.

ἐσεβάσθησαν. Here only in N.T., and O.T. only Hosea 10:5 Aq. = they made their objects of worship.

ἐλάτρευσαν. Of full religious service. See Westcott, Hebr. ref. above, Romans 1:9.

παρὰ τὸν κτ., to the neglect of. Winer-M., p. 504; n. the tragic irony of the antithesis.

ὅς ἐστιν εὐλ. κ.τ.λ. Cf. Romans 9:5, 2 Corinthians 11:31, in each case a mark of deep emotion.

Verse 26

26. διὰ τοῦτο. Wilful rejection of GOD’S self-revelation undermines self-respect, purity, and the whole sphere of duty.

πάθη ἀτιμίας. The gen. is descriptive—shameful passion. The thought of misuse is included in ἀτιμία; cf. Romans 9:21; as φυσική and κατὰ φύσιν mark a right use.

Verse 27

27. ἀπολαμβάνοντες, ‘receiving as due.’

Verse 28

28. ἐδοκίμασαν, ‘they thought not fit’ (cf. Field, ad lo[77]). The verb implies approval after testing: the infinitive is epexegetic. τὸν θεὸν closely with the verb; cf. in passive construction 1 Thessalonians 2:4. They tested or proved GOD and decided not to keep Him, etc.

ἔχειν, pres. = to keep, maintain what they had received. ἐν ἐπιγνώσει = rather ‘intimate’ than ‘full’ knowledge, close application of mind rather than mastery, though the latter follows in due degree. cf. Robinson, Eph. 248 f.; Moulton, p. 113; cf. Romans 3:20, Romans 10:2; Philippians 1:9; cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5 f.

ἀδόκιμον νοῦννοῦς the mind as originating purposed action, good or bad. ἀδόκιμος, unable to stand the test which is properly applied to it; cf. 2 Cor. l.c[78]; Hebrews 6:8.

Verse 29

29. This catalogue of sins emphasises the false relations of man to man as following upon the false relation of men to GOD and the false conception of the proper use of man’s own nature. The classification is only partially systematic, 29 a the mental dispositions, 29 b–31 the dispositions seen in various kinds of action.

Verse 32

32. οἵτινες κ.τ.λ. define once more the root of the evil—rejection of known truth—here as to the fixed judgment of GOD on such acts and persons.

τὸ δικαίωμα = the just decision or claim, cf. Romans 2:26, Romans 8:4; Luke 1:6, not so much of the judge as of the legislator. The word and its cognates used of a judge seem always to imply acquittal.

πράσσοντες. Practise—methodically and deliberately. ποιοῦσιν = commit the acts, without necessarily implying deliberation. συνευδοκοῦσιν, join with deliberate and hearty purpose. There is a true climax. A conspiracy of evil is worse than isolated actions, because it indicates the set tendency of the heart. Cf. S. H.; cf. Luke 11:48; Acts 8:1; Acts 22:20. N. the Test. of the Twelve Patriarchs, Ash. Romans 6:2, καὶ πράσσουσι τὸ κακὸν καὶ συνευδοκοῦσι τοῖς πράσσουσιν. Charles regards this passage as the original of our verse here.


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"Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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