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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 1

 

 

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Verses 1-7

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

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

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

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


Verses 8-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Verses 18-32

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

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

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

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

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/romans-1.html. 1919.

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