corner graphic

Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 1:1



Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

Adam Clarke Commentary

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ - The word δουλος, which we translate servant, properly means a slave, one who is the entire property of his master; and is used here by the apostle with great propriety. He felt he was not his own, and that his life and powers belonged to his heavenly owner, and that he had no right to dispose of or employ them but in the strictest subserviency to the will of his Lord. In this sense, and in this spirit, he is the willing slave of Jesus Christ; and this is, perhaps, the highest character which any soul of man can attain on this side eternity. "I am wholly the Lord's; and wholly devoted in the spirit of sacrificial obedience, to the constant, complete, and energetic performance of the Divine will." A friend of God is high; a son of God is higher; but the servant, or, in the above sense, the slave of God, is higher than all; - in a word, he is a person who feels he has no property in himself, and that God is all and in all.

Called to be an apostle - The word αποστολος, apostle, from αποστελλειν, to send, signifies simply a messenger or envoy; one sent on a confidential errand: but here it means an extraordinary messenger; one sent by God himself to deliver the most important message on behalf of his Maker; - in a word, one sent by the Divine authority to preach the Gospel to the nations. The word κλητος, called, signifies here the same as constituted, and should be joined with αποστολος, as it is in the Greek, and translated thus: Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, constituted an apostle, etc. This sense the word called has in many places of the sacred writings; e. g. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called, κληθωμεν, Constituted, or made the sons of God. As it is likely that no apostle had been employed in founding the Church of Rome, and there was need of much authority to settle the matters that were there in dispute, it was necessary he should show them that he derived his authority from God, and was immediately delegated by him to preach and write as he was now doing.

Separated unto the Gospel - Set apart and appointed to this work, and to this only; as the Israelites were separate from all the people of the earth, to be the servants of God: see Leviticus 20:26. St. Paul may here refer to his former state as a Pharisee, which literally signifies a separatist, or one separated. Before he was separated unto the service of his own sect; now he is separated unto the Gospel of God. On the word Gospel, and its meaning, see the preface to the notes on St. Matthew; and for the meaning of the word Pharisee, see the same Gospel, Matthew 3:7; (note).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Paul - The original name of the author of this Epistle was “Saul.” Acts 7:58; Acts 7:1; Acts 8:1, etc. This was changed to Paul (see the note at Acts 13:9), and by this name he is generally known in the New Testament. The reason why he assumed this name is not certainly known. It was, however, in accordance with the custom of the times; see the note at Acts 13:9. The name Saul was Hebrew; the name Paul was Roman. In addressing a letter to the Romans, he would naturally make use of the name to which they were accustomed, and which would excite no prejudice among them. The ancient custom was to begin an epistle with the name of the writer, as Cicero to Varro, etc. We record the name at the end. It may be remarked, however, that the placing the name of the writer at the beginning of an epistle was always done, and is still, when the letter was one of authority, or when it conferred any special privileges. Thus, in the proclamation of Cyrus Ezra 1:2, “Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia,” etc.; see also Ezra 4:11; Ezra 7:12. “Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest,” etc. Daniel 4:1. The commencement of a letter by an apostle to a Christian church in this manner was especially proper as indicating authority.

A servant - This name was what the Lord Jesus himself directed His disciples to use, as their general appellation; Matthew 10:25; Matthew 20:27; Mark 10:44. And it was the customary name which they assumed; Galatians 1:10; Colossians 4:12; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1; Acts 4:29; Titus 1:1; James 1:1. The proper meaning of this word servant, δοῦλος doulosis slave, one who is not free. It expresses the condition of one who has a master, or who is at the control of another. It is often, however, applied to courtiers, or the officers that serve under a king: because in an eastern monarchy the relation of an absolute king to his courtiers corresponded nearly to that of a master and a slave. Thus, the word is expressive of dignity and honor; and the servants of a king denote officers of a high rank and station. It is applied to the prophets as those who were honored by God, or especially entrusted by him with office; Deuteronomy 34:5; Joshua 1:2; Jeremiah 25:4. The name is also given to the Messiah, Isaiah 42:1, “Behold my servant in whom my soul delighteth,” etc.; Isaiah 53:11, “shall my righteous servant justify many.” The apostle uses it here evidently to denote his acknowledging Jesus Christ as his master; as indicating his dignity, as especially appointed by him to his great work; and as showing that in this Epistle he intended to assume no authority of his own, but simply to declare the will of his master, and theirs.

Called to be an apostle - This word called means here not merely to be invited, but has the sense of appointed. It indicates that he had not assumed the office himself, but that he was set apart to it by the authority of Christ himself. It was important for Paul to state this,

(1)Because the other apostles had been called or chosen to this work John 15:16, John 15:19; Matthew 10:1; Luke 6:13; and,

(2)Because Paul was not one of those originally appointed.

It was of consequence for him therefore, to affirm that he had not taken this high office to himself, but that he had been called to it by the authority of Jesus Christ. His appointment to this office he not infrequently takes occasion to vindicate; 1 Corinthians 9:1, etc.: Galatians 1:12-24; 2 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; Romans 11:13.

An apostle - One sent to execute a commission. It is applied because the apostles were sent out by Jesus Christ to preach his gospel, and to establish his church; Matthew 10:2 note; Luke 6:13 note.

Separated - The word translated “separated unto,” ἀφορίζω aphorizōmeans to designate, to mark out by fixed limits, to bound as a field, etc. It denotes those who are “separated,” or called out from the common mass; Acts 19:9; 2 Corinthians 6:17. The meaning here does not materially differ from the expression, “called to be an apostle,” except that perhaps this includes the notion of the purpose or designation of God to this work. Thus, Paul uses the same word respecting himself; Galatians 1:15, “God, who separated me from my mother‘s womb, and called me by his grace,” that is, God designated me; marked me out; or designed that I should be an apostle from my infancy. In the same way Jeremiah was designated to be a prophet; Jeremiah 1:5.

Unto the gospel of God - Designated or designed by God that I should make it “my business” to preach the gospel. Set apart to this, as the special, great work of my life; as having no other object for which I should live. For the meaning of the word “gospel,” see the note at Matthew 1:1. It is called the gospel of God because it is his appointment; it has been originated by him, and has his authority. The function of an apostle was to preach the gospel Paul regarded himself as separated to this work. It was not to live in splendor, wealth, and ease, but to devote himself to this great business of proclaiming good news, that God was reconciled to people in his Son. This is the sole business of all ministers of “religion.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible


An Appropriate Title for Paul's Epistle


This chapter contains the salutation and introduction, a concise statement of the general theme of the epistle in Romans 1:16-17, and the first part of an extensive argument concerning the universal sinfulness of man and his consequent need of salvation.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God. (Romans 1:1)

All letters and other written communications, in New Testament times, were written upon parchments and conveyed to their recipients in rolled-up form; and that ancient style of letter required, as a practical consideration, that the signature of the writer be at the beginning. Otherwise, it would have been necessary to unroll the entire scroll to find the name of the sender. Therefore, Paul followed the custom of the times in placing his name along with the salutation in the beginning of the epistle.

Up until the time of his conversion, Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus. SAUL, the first name under which this great man appears in the New Testament, means DEMANDED, and ranks among the great names in Jewish history, that being the name of their first king. PAUL, on the other hand, means LITTLE, and could have signified Paul's smallness of stature; however, the name is Gentile, being the name of the apostle's first distinguished convert, Sergius Paulus, proconsul of Cyprus, and Hodge suggested the possibility that the new Gentile name of the apostle derived from that conversion.[1]

It was common among the Jews to mark some outstanding event in a person's life with a change of his name, as in the case of Abraham (Genesis 17:5), Jacob (Genesis 32:38), and Peter (John 1:42); and thus it appears that even in such a detail as this, Paul was "not a whit behind the chiefest apostles" (2 Corinthians 11:5). The first use of the name PAUL for this apostle is recorded in Acts 13:9 upon the occasion of the proconsul's conversion; but, significantly, it appears to be a name that was already his, and is mentioned before the conversion took place. Despite this, the dramatic switch from one name to another certainly took place on that occasion; and if, indeed, the name PAUL was adopted at that time out of regard to so distinguished a convert, this great apostle reminds one of Hercules, who, in the first great labor of strangling the Nemean lion, took the lion's skin and wore it ever afterwards, Paul forever afterwards wearing the name of the proconsul of Cyprus. Both names were appropriate for the great ambassador to the Gentiles, and it is altogether possible that his parents gave him both names, providentially, and that his great mission to the Gentiles naturally resulted in the shift of emphasis to his Gentile name.

Servant of Jesus Christ ... The Greek word [@doulos], from which the English translation "servant" is taken, actually means BONDSLAVE and is a very strong word indicating a number or very important things. It means that, as Christ's slave, Paul was entitled to hearing and obedience on the part of all people, it being an ancient axiom that the honor and dignity of the owner were inherent in his slave, mistreatment of the slave being legally construed as mistreatment of the owner. Thus at the very outset, Paul announced the premise upon which he was entitled to be heard even in Rome. The use of the term BONDSLAVE also means that in conscience, doctrine, and conduct, Paul's life was utterly in subjection to Christ. In the third place, due to the frequent use of this word in conjunction with APOSTLE, it implies an official capacity in the person so designated (2 Peter 1:1 etc.). Therefore, Paul was not claiming by use of this word, merely that he was living the Christian life, but that as a bondslave of Christ he had a message from God that all people are obligated to heed. That such was his intent derives from the fact that he immediately connected the office of a bondslave with that of an apostle.

Called to be an apostle ... The words "to be" are usually printed in italics to show that they were not in the Greek and were merely supplied by the translators; and in this instance they would have been better left out. As Whiteside expressed it: "Paul was not telling what he was called to be, but what he was!"[2] Although the title of apostle has been somewhat loosely applied, the meaning is rather strict. As Hodge noted:

As a strict official designation, the word "apostle" is confined to those men selected and commissioned by Christ himself to deliver in his name the message of salvation.[3]

In this context, it should be noted that Christ himself is the one who selected the apostles and conferred upon them that name. "And of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles" (Luke 6:13). It is precisely in that strictest meaning of the title that Paul's salutation and identification of himself as an apostle should be understood. He was a "called" apostle, not by men, but by Christ himself; and he invariably laid claim to the full authority of the office.


The apostles of Jesus Christ constituted the most interesting group of men ever to live upon earth. They were men of humble origin, men that the world would hesitate to call learned or wise when measured by ordinary standards, men who were never honored by any university with a degree, or elected to any learned society of intellectuals, men who never wrote any books, as the term is usually understood, who were never elected to any pubic office, who never became wealthy, and who, with the possible exception of Paul, would never have been remembered by posterity, had it not been for their association with Jesus Christ. Their relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, however, projected them into the spotlight and focal center of all subsequent history. For nearly two thousand years already, children have learned with eagerness the names of the Twelve Apostles, and gray-headed men and women have gone down to the grave repeating the blessed words these men delivered to the human race. It must be conceded that the apostles of Christ have exerted and continue to exert a greater influence upon humanity than that which may be attributed to any other human source.

Who were permitted to serve as apostles? (1) Only those whom Jesus chose for this office were ever, in any real sense, apostles, this being a necessary deduction from Acts 1:24, "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show of these two the one whom thou hast chosen." In that remarkable event, the apostles themselves had been able to narrow the choice for Judas' successor to the two men alone who fulfilled the other qualifications for the apostleship; (2) having been companions of the Master from the time of John's baptism until Christ's ascension (Acts 1:22); and (3) having been witnesses of the resurrection of Christ, that is, having seen him alive after his death and burial (Acts 1:22). Paul's apostleship was different only in this, that he had not been a personal companion of Jesus during the Lord's ministry, as were the others; but, by special appearances to Paul, the Lord commissioned him as a true "witness" of the resurrection (Acts 26:16), that commission as an apostle being by Christ himself and not by men (Galatians 1:1).

What were their powers? They were infallible teachers of God's word, being inspired in the highest sense of that word, their infallibility being attested by the signs and miracles that accompanied their preaching (Mark 16:20). Peter raised the dead to life again (Acts 9:41); Paul suffered no hurt from the vicious bite of a deadly viper (Acts 28:5); and many other signs and miracles were wrought by them and all the apostles. They could convey the gift of the Holy Spirit, through the laying on of their hands; and one must agree with Charles Hodge that it was:

The power of working miracles in confirmation of their mission ... (It was) this power they could communicate to others by the laying on of their hands.[4]

It was never claimed by any of the apostles that any perpetual office could thus be transferred; and the notion of any line of succession to such an office as the apostleship is illogical and opposed to the scriptures.

Who were their successors? Only one of the apostles ever had a successor, namely, Judas Iscariot, whose successor, Matthias, was chosen by the Lord to take the office from which Judas "by transgression, fell" (Acts 1:25 KJV), the significance of this arising out of the circumstance that the death of two of the apostles is recorded in the New Testament, whereas only one of them required a successor, it being nowhere recorded that any successor was chosen for James (Acts 12:2). The difference in there having been chosen a successor for Judas, but none for James, may be explained only by the fact that the scriptures attribute the removal of Judas from his office to his transgression, and not to his death, which leads to the conclusion that death never removed, and indeed cannot remove, an apostle from his office. It is this tremendous truth that underlies the promise of Jesus to the Twelve that, "In the times of the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28). This promise of the Master established the principle that death could not remove an apostle, nor interfere with the discharge of their apostolic duties, their reign being co-extensive with that of Christ himself. As to HOW the apostles are reigning today, it appears that their word, the inspired message which they delivered, and which is still preserved and binding upon the Christians of all ages, that their word is the means of. their continual authority, or reign, over the church. That the apostolic office was unique and limited, absolutely, to the Twelve plus Paul, is further corroborated by the apostle John's vision of the foundations of the Eternal City, upon which are inscribed "the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Revelation 21:14), Therefore, how impossible it is to believe the claims of any so-called successors to apostolic dignity and authority of the Twelve, whether in this age or any other!

Separated unto the gospel of God ... This reference to separation corresponds to the setting apart of the prophets of the Old Testament for their divine mission, as mentioned in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5), and strongly suggests the parity of honor and authority which the apostles of the New Testament enjoyed, along with the mighty prophets of the Old Testament. This oneness of dignity, embracing both prophets and apostles, was mentioned by Peter, thus: "Ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles" (2 Peter 3:2). There is, of course, a certain sense in which all Christians are separated, or sanctified; but far more is intended here. On Paul's part, there was a total, absolute, and unvarying dedication to the work of preaching Christ to all people.

[1] Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968), p. 14.

[2] R. L. Whiteside, Commentary on Romans (Fort Worth, Texas: The Mannery Company, 1945), p. 7.

[3] Charles Hodge, op, cit., p. 15.

[4] Charles Hodge, op. cit., p. 16.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,.... The name of the author of this epistle is Paul, who formerly was called Saul. Some think his name was changed upon his own conversion; others, upon the conversion of the Roman deputy Sergius Paulus, Acts 13:7; others, that he was so called from the littleness of his stature; but rather it should seem that he had two names, which was usual with the Jews; one by which they went among the Gentiles, and another by they were called in their own land; See Gill on Acts 13:9. "A servant of Jesus Christ"; not a servant of sin, nor of Satan, nor of man, nor of Moses and his law, nor of the traditions of the elders, but of Jesus Christ; and not by creation only, but by redemption, and by powerful efficacious grace in conversion; which is no ways contrary to true liberty; nor a disgraceful, but a most honourable character; and which chiefly regards him as a minister of the Gospel:

called to be an apostle: an apostle was one that was immediately sent by Christ, and had his authority and doctrine directly from him, and had a power of working miracles from him, in confirmation of the truth of his mission, authority, and doctrine; all which were to be found in the author of this epistle, who did not thrust himself into this office, or take this honour to himself, of which he always judged himself unworthy, but was "called" to it according to the will, and by the grace of God:

separated unto the Gospel of God. This may regard either God's eternal purpose concerning him, his preordination of him from eternity to be a preacher of the Gospel, to which he was separated from his mother's womb, Galatians 1:15; or the separation of him to that work made by the order of the Spirit of God, Acts 13:2. The phrase used is either in allusion to the priests and Levites, who were separated from their brethren the children of Israel, to their sacred employments; or rather to the apostle's having been פרוש, "a Pharisee", which signifies "one separated", as he was now; only with this difference, before he was separated to the law, but now "to the Gospel", to preach and defend it, which he did with all faithfulness and integrity; the excellency of which Gospel is signified by its being called "the Gospel of God": he is the author of it; his grace is the subject of it; and he it is who commits it to men, qualifies them for the preaching of it, and succeeds them in it.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Paul, 1 a 2 a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an b apostle, c separated unto the gospel of God,

(1) The first part of the epistle contains a most profitable preface down to verse six. {(2)} Paul, exhorting the Romans to give diligent heed to him, in that he shows that he comes not in his own name, but as God's messenger to the Gentiles, entreats them with the weightiest matter that exists, promised long ago by God, by many good witnesses, and now at length indeed performed.

(a) Minister, for this word "servant" is not taken in this place as set against the word "freeman", but rather refers to and declares his ministry and office.

(b) Whereas he said before in a general term that he was a minister, now he comes to a more special name, and says that he is an apostle, and that he did not take this office upon himself by his own doing, but that he was called by God, and therefore in this letter of his to the Romans he is doing nothing but his duty.

(c) Appointed by God to preach the gospel.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Romans 1:1-17. Introduction.

Paul — (See on Acts 13:9).

a servant of Jesus Christ — The word here rendered “servant” means “bond-servant,” or one subject to the will and wholly at the disposal of another. In this sense it is applied to the disciples of Christ at large (1 Corinthians 7:21-23), as in the Old Testament to all the people of God (Isaiah 66:14). But as, in addition to this, the prophets and kings of Israel were officially “the servants of the Lord” (Joshua 1:1; Psalm 18:1, title), the apostles call themselves, in the same official sense, “the servants of Christ” (as here, and Philemon 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Judges 1:1), expressing such absolute subjection and devotion to the Lord Jesus as they would never have yielded to a mere creature. (See on Romans 1:7; see on John 5:22, John 5:23).

called to be an apostle — when first he “saw the Lord”; the indispensable qualification for apostleship. (See on Acts 9:5; see on Acts 22:14; see on 1 Corinthians 9:1).

separated unto the — preaching of the

gospel — neither so late as when “the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 13:2), nor so early as when “separated from his mother‘s womb” (see on Galatians 1:15). He was called at one and the same time to the faith and the apostleship of Christ (Acts 26:16-18).

of God — that is, the Gospel of which God is the glorious Author. (So Romans 15:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Peter 4:17).

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

To the Romans (προς ωμαιουςpros Rōmaious). This is the title in Aleph A B C, our oldest Greek MSS. for the Epistle. We do not know whether Paul gave any title at all. Later MSS. add other words up to the Textus Receptus: The Epistle of Paul to the Romans. The Epistle is put first in the MSS. because it is the most important of Paul‘s Epistles.

Paul (ΠαυλοςPaulos). Roman name (ΠαυλυςPaulus). See note on Acts 13:9 for the origin of this name by the side of Saul.

Servant (doulos). Bond-slave of Jesus Christ (or Christ Jesus as some MSS. give it and as is the rule in the later Epistles) for the first time in the Epistles in the opening sentence, though the phrase already in Galatians 1:10. Recurs in Philemon 1:1 and desmios (bondsman) in Philemon 1:1.

Called to be an apostle (δουλοςklētos apostolos). An apostle by vocation (Denney) as in 1 Corinthians 1:1. In Galatians 1:1 δεσμιοςklētos is not used, but the rest of the verse has the same idea.

Separated (κλητος αποστολοςaphōrismenos). Perfect passive participle of κλητοςaphorizō for which verb see note on Galatians 1:15. Paul is a spiritual Pharisee (etymologically), separated not to the oral tradition, but to God‘s gospel, a chosen vessel (Acts 9:15). By man also (Acts 13:2). Many of Paul‘s characteristic words like απωρισμενοςeuaggelion have been already discussed in the previous Epistles that will call for little comment from now on.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


Rom . Paul.—In Latin Paulus, and equals little. Chosen, perhaps, for humility. Name of illustrious Roman family. Saul among Jews. Afterwards Paul. Very common for Jews to accept a second name of Greek origin bearing resemblance in sound. So σαῦλος, παῦλος Servant.—Common word of slaves. Bondmen, in contrast to freemen. Paul claims to be heard as δοῦλος, bondman of Jesus Christ.


A glorious inscription.—It is not perhaps too much to say that the most glorious time of the Church's history was the first three hundred years of its existence. Much of the romance and chivalry of Christianity disappeared when the fires of persecution were extinguished, when the stake and the faggot were displaced by the sceptre of authority, when riches instead of poverty became the reward of the Christian profession and it became the pathway to positions of worldly influence. Stirring times were those, and in them appeared the mightiest of the race. A bright galaxy of great men—great in intellect as well as in spiritual power—flourished in the first days of the Christian era. Those were the days of Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenæus, and many others of whom the world was not worthy,—men who were driven from earth and found a home in heaven; who were dishonoured in their own time and glorified in after time; whose writings, sayings, histories, and characters have been both the study and the admiration of the men of profoundest intellect and widest erudition who have followed. Rising high above all these great men, as King Saul, physically, above his fellows, as the mountain peak above adjacent high-lying lands, is the great apostle of the Gentiles. Paul was not great physically; but he was better, being great both intellectually and spiritually. The greatest merely human hero of Christianity, the noblest man of all time, was "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God." Let us consider the inscription and the description which he gives of his own claim to speak with authority.

I. The human name is changeable, while the spiritual relationship is abiding.—Many guesses are given as to the reason why the name was changed in this instance. Dr. Wordsworth assigns no less than eight reasons for the change of "Saul" into "Paul." We need not here give them; and some are rather fanciful. We cannot presume to decide where learned men differ. Surely it is a matter of small importance. Authentic history simply records the change of the name. In our days we have had names changed. Some have cast off their surnames and have taken fresh ones in order to increase their worldly goods, or to heighten their worldly position. What will become of earthly names in the spirit world? Are our names left behind on the tombstone where they are inscribed? Is it possible to have distinguishing names amongst the multitude which no man can number? Surely the individuality of the redeemed is not dependent upon the denoting power of a name. The names of Abraham and of Lazarus are mentioned in the parable of the rich man. But this is necessary to the carrying out of the parabolic picture. There must be in heaven many Abrahams, and many Pauls, and many Peters, by this time. Perhaps the human names will pass away like other things of earth. Names change as time advances. Names die because the things or persons denoted have passed into oblivion; but the spiritual relationship is abiding. Greater and more permanent than the name "Paul" is the title "servant of Jesus Christ." A servant,—yea, a slave of Jesus Christ. The bondman of Him who came to give the highest freedom. A bondman whose price was not silver or gold, but the precious blood of Christ. A bondman who wears the easy yoke of love and carries the light burden of devoted service. The slave of Jesus Christ is free and restful as the child in a mother's arms. This slave will not take any discharge. He serves on earth, and he serves as a king and a priest in heaven. It is a spiritual relationship, firm and lasting as the throne of God.

II. The human name separates, while the spiritual title unites.—Human names separate. They are given for this very purpose. The human name Paul not only denotes a certain physical form, a small stature, sparkling eyes, and aquiline nose, with Jewish and Grecian type of features; but to us it also connotes certain mental and moral features. It makes us think of a different man from St. Peter or St. John. The name Paul so sets off and separates the apostle of the Gentiles that if any other Paul is mentioned there must be appended some other name. Our earth names are separating attributes, while the title "a servant of Jesus Christ" is a uniting term. "A servant of Jesus Christ"—and thus a brother to all the Lord's followers. We may not be great either socially or intellectually, but we march in the same noble company with St. Paul and the other great ones of time, for we are all servants of Jesus Christ. One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. There is a sweet touch of spiritual nature which makes the whole family of Christ one. How beautifully and yet how incidentally St. Paul refers to the uniting force! He seems to say, I speak not merely as Paul, but as your brother, your fellow-servant to Jesus Christ.

III. The human name is an outward mark, while the divine call sets an inward seal.—The name brings before us the mental and moral characteristics of the man simply by reason of the working of the law of association. The name does not make the manhood. It is the manhood which makes the name. In itself the name Milton is a mere outward sign and mark. It has no creative force, and does not work inwardly. It is by what it suggests that we think of Milton the blind poet, and are led to wonder at the sublimity of his imagination. The name is an outward mark, while the divine call sets an inward seal. This call is:

1. Discriminating. God had need of Paul, of his learning and his wisdom, and He called him into His service.

2. Changing. Saul and Paul are the same, and yet so changed by the divine call as to be different. Saul the persecutor had the same intellect as Paul the writer of this epistle, and yet so changed that Paul rises above Saul by infinite degrees. God's spiritual changes amount to new creations.

3. Elevating. It was an upward movement when Saul was called to be an apostle. Elevation of the moral nature is the enlargement and improvement of the mental nature. We are told that the great artist must be pure in nature and in aim. Only the good man can be the truly successful orator. Saul would have taken a good place amongst his fellows, but he would never have risen to the heights of Paul. We cannot be apostles, but by God's help we can be good, and thus in our measure great.

IV. A noble life-purpose alone immortalises a human name.—The men of one idea are the rulers of the race. Paul was a man of one idea. It was—For the gospel of God. He believed it with all his heart as the good news from heaven. He was separated to it as good news for his own soul—good news for a fallen race. In these days some speak of the gospel as an old-fashioned word, but such words are the most influential. The old gospel is ever new. Paul would have gloried in the gospel had he lived to the end of time, and would have laboured more abundantly than all for its spread. His noble purpose, resolutely followed, has written his name in undying characters on the annals of time. Being the lover of Christ and His gospel, he became the true lover of his fellows,—Paul the greatest philanthropist of all men. Our names may die, but our noble purposes, resolutely achieved, cannot die. The record is in heaven. We shall be known by our purposes and by our efforts to give them fulfilment. Let us seek the immortality of goodness. Let us pray for God's grace to separate us to His gospel.


The meaning of "apostle."—The name "apostle," which properly means a person sent, is sometimes applied in Scripture generally to any of those messengers who were sent by the Almighty to declare His will. Hence our blessed Saviour is called the "Apostle and High Priest of our profession." But in its most common use in the New Testament it is limited to the twelve who were chosen by our Lord to be the witnesses of His life, and, after His ascension into heaven, to publish His religion to the world. St. Paul was not indeed of this number, but he was invested with the full authority belonging to the apostolical office, being called by the special nomination of Christ to be an apostle. This remark he introduces to show how completely he was distinguished from the Judaising teachers who were not called to the office which they had undertaken, but assumed it of themselves, and without any authority. He was also separated unto the gospel of God, chosen from among the rest of mankind, and devoted to the service of the gospel, that he might spread the knowledge of it in the world.—D. Ritchie, D.D.

Called to be an apostle.—Let the disciples of Christ remember that they are all His servants; and, what department soever of that service they are called to fill, whether more public or more private, let them cherish the same spirit with Paul, counting it their honour, and feeling it their pleasure, to serve such a Master. The more highly we think of the Master whom we serve (and in the present instance the more highly the more justly, the glorious reality ever remaining far above all our loftiest conceptions of it), the more honourable shall we deem His service; and the deeper our sense of obligation for His kindness and grace, the more ardent will be our delight in the doing of His will, and the more active and unremitting our zeal in the advancement of His glory. But Paul served Christ in a special capacity. He subjoins to his general designation his more appropriate one: "called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God." The office of an apostle was the highest among the offices of the Christian Church. In every enumeration of them this stands first: "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers" (Eph ; Eph 4:11). And His thus "giving" them implies His bestowing upon them whatever qualifications were necessary for the due discharge of their respective functions. This the connection intimates. "Unto every one of us," the apostle had just said, "is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ." He, by the endowments, ordinary and extraordinary, of the Holy Spirit, fitted each class of these spiritual functionaries for the execution of their respective trusts. In a larger enumeration, given elsewhere, apostles still hold the first place: "God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues" (1Co 12:28).—Wardlaw.

Paul.—A little man, it should seem by his name, such as was James the Less: but as the Church of Philadelphia, though she had but a little strength, yet had a great door set open; and as Bethlehem was the least, and yet not the least, among the princes of Judah; so was this apostle the last (and perhaps the least in stature), as one born out of due time. But God (who loves to be maximus in minimus) had designed him to great services, and gifted him accordingly, so that he was no whit behind the very chiefest of the apostles; and for painstaking he laboured more abundantly than they all. Hence Chrysostom calleth him insatiabilem Dei cultorem, an insatiable servant of Christ. And himself seems as insatiable an encomiast of this apostle (the apostle he commonly nameth him "by an excellency"), for he hath written eight homilies in his commendation. And if any think he hath said too much, it is because either they have not read him or cannot judge of his worth. Qui tricubitalis cœlos transcendit (as the same Father saith): little though he were, yet he got above the heavens.

"A servant of Jesus Christ."—This is a higher title than monarch of the world, as Numa, second king of Rome, could say. Constantinus, Valentinus, and Theodosius, three emperors, called themselves Vasallos Christi, the vassals of Christ, as Socrates reporteth.—Trapp.

Change of names.—It was common among the Jews and other Oriental nations to change the names of individuals on the occurrence of any remarkable event in their lives, as in the case of Abraham and Jacob. This was especially the case when the individual was advanced to some new office or dignity. Hence a new name is sometimes equivalent to a new dignity. As Paul seems to have received this name shortly after he entered on his duties as an apostle, it is often supposed, and not improbably, that it was on account of this call that his name was changed. Thus, Simon, when chosen to be an apostle, was called Cephas or Peter. Since, however, it was very common for those Jews who associated much with foreigners to have two names, one Jewish and the other Greek or Roman (sometimes entirely distinct, as Hillel and Pollio; sometimes nearly related, as Silas and Silvanus), it is perhaps more probable that the apostle was called Saul among the Jews and Paul among the heathen. As he was the apostle of the Gentiles, and all his epistles, except that to the Hebrews, were addressed to Churches founded among the heathen, it is not wonderful that he constantly called himself Paul instead of Saul.—Hodge.

Slave.—The original word, δοῦλος, properly signifies a slave. Here it is a name of honour. For, in the East, the chief ministers of kings were called δοῦλοι, slaves. In this sense Moses is called δούλου θεοῦ, the slave or servant of God. This honourable name, therefore, denotes the high authority which Paul possessed in the kingdom of Christ as one of His chief ministers.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Vincent's Word Studies

Superscription (Romans 1:1, Romans 1:2)

Dr. Morison observes that the superscription is peerless for its wealth of theological idea.

Paul ( Παῦλος )

A transcript for the Latin paulus or paullus, meaning little. It was a favorite name among the Cilicians, and the nearest approach in sound to the Hebrew Saul. According to some, both names were borne by him in his childhood, Paulus being the one by which he was known among the Gentiles, and which was subsequently assumed by him to the exclusion of the other, in order to indicate his position as the friend and teacher of the Gentiles. The practice of adopting Gentile names may be traced through all the periods of Hebrew history. Double names also, national and foreign, often occur in combination, as Belteshazzar-Daniel; Esther-Hadasa; thus Saul-Paulus.

Others find in the name an expression of humility, according to Paul's declaration that he was “the least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Others, an allusion to his diminutive stature; and others again think that he assumed the name out of compliment to Sergius Paulus, the deputy of Cyprus. Dean Howson, while rejecting this explanation, remarks: “We cannot believe it accidental that the words 'who is also called Paul,' occur at this particular point of the inspired narrative. The heathen name rises to the surface at the moment when St. Paul visibly enters on his office as the apostle of the heathen. The Roman name is stereotyped at the moment when he converts the Roman governor.”

A servant ( δοῦλος )

Lit., bond-servant or slave. Paul applies the term to himself, Galatians 1:10; Philemon 1:1; Titus 1:1; and frequently to express the relation of believers to Christ. The word involves the ideas of belonging to a master, and of service as a slave. The former is emphasized in Paul's use of the term, since Christian service, in his view, has no element of servility, but is the expression of love and of free choice. From this stand-point the idea of service coheres with those of freedom and of sonship. Compare 1 Corinthians 7:22; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 6:6; Philemon 1:16.

On the other hand, believers belong to Christ by purchase (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18; Ephesians 1:7), and own Him as absolute Master. It is a question whether the word contains any reference to official position. In favor of this it may be said that when employed in connection with the names of individuals, it is always applied to those who have some special work as teachers or ministers, and that most of such instances occur in the opening salutations of the apostolic letters. The meaning, in any case, must not be limited to the official sense.

Called to be an apostle ( κλητὸς ἀπόστολος )

As the previous phrase describes generally Paul's relation to Christ, this expression indicates it specifically. “Called to be an apostle” (A.V. and Rev.), signifies called to the office of an apostle. Yet, as Dr. Morison observes, there is an ambiguity in the rendering, since he who is simply called to be an apostle may have his apostleship as yet only in the future. The Greek indicates that the writer was actually in the apostolate - a called apostle. Godet, “an apostle by way of call.”

Separated unto the gospel of God ( ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον Θεοῦ )

Characterizing the preceding phrase more precisely: definitely separated from the rest of mankind. Compare Galatians 1:15, and “chosen vessel,” Acts 9:15. The verb means “to mark off ( ἀπό ) from others by a boundary ( ὅρος ).” It is used of the final separation of the righteous from the wicked (Matthew 13:49; Matthew 25:32); of the separation of the disciples from the world (Luke 6:22); and of the setting apart of apostles to special functions (Acts 13:2). Gospel is an exception to the almost invariable usage, in being without the article (compare Revelation 14:6); since Paul considers the Gospel rather as to its quality - good news from God - than as the definite proclamation of Jesus Christ as a Savior. The defining elements are added subsequently in Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4. Not the preaching of the Gospel, but; the message itself is meant. For Gospel, see on superscription of Matthew.

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ-To this introduction the conclusion answers, Romans 15:15, etc.

Called to be an apostle — And made an apostle by that calling. While God calls, he makes what he calls. As the Judaizing teachers disputed his claim to the apostolical office, it is with great propriety that he asserts it in the very entrance of an epistle wherein their principles are entirely overthrown. And various other proper and important thoughts are suggested in this short introduction; particularly the prophecies concerning the gospel, the descent of Jesus from David, the great doctrines of his Godhead and resurrection, the sending the gospel to the gentiles, the privileges of Christians, and the obedience and holiness to which they were obliged in virtue of their profession.

Separated — By God, not only from the bulk of other men, from other Jews, from other disciples, but even from other Christian teachers, to be a peculiar instrument of God in spreading the gospel.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Wesley, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

An apostle. Paul was not in fact one of the twelve apostles. The original number were appointed long before his conversion; and, as the office appears not to have been intended to be perpetual, we do not learn that any vacancies, after that occasioned by the death of Judas, were filled. Paul, however, generally assumes the title, in his writings, inasmuch as, like the apostles, he received his commission to go forth as a preacher of the gospel, directly from the Savior.--Separated; set apart, consecrated.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.Paul, etc. (11) — With regard to the word Paul, as it is a subject of no such moment as ought to detain us, and as nothing can be said which has not been mentioned by other expounders, I should say nothing, were it not proper to satisfy some at small expense without being tedious to others; for the subject shall be despatched in a very few words.

They who think that the Apostle attained this name as a trophy for having brought Sergius, the proconsul, to the faith of Christ, are confuted by the testimony of Luke, who shows that he was so called before that time. (Acts 13:7.) Nor does it seem probable to me, that it was given him when he was converted to Christ; though this idea so pleased [Augustine ], that he took occasion refinedly to philosophize on the subject; for he says, that from a proud Saul he was made a very little (parvulum (12)) disciple of Christ. More probable is the opinion of [Origen ], who thought that he had two names; for it is not unlikely to be true, that his name, Saul, derived from his kindred, was given him by his parents to indicate his religion and his descent; and that his other name, Paul, was added, to show his right to Roman citizenship; (13) they would not have this honor, then highly valued, to be otherwise than made evident; but they did not so much value it as to withhold a proof of his Israelitic descent. But he has commonly taken the name Paul in his Epistles, and it may be for the following reasons: because in the churches to which he wrote, it was more known and more common, more acceptable in the Roman empire, and less known among his own nation. It was indeed his duty to avoid the foolish suspicion and hatred under which the name of a Jew then labored among the Romans and in their provinces, and to abstain from inflaming the rage of his own countrymen, and to take care of himself.

A servant of Jesus Christ, etc. — He signalizes himself with these distinctions for the purpose of securing more authority to his doctrine; and this he seeks to secure by two things — first, by asserting his call to the Apostleship; (14) and secondly, by showing that his call was not unconnected with the Church of Rome: for it was of great importance that he should be deemed an Apostle through God’s call, and that he should be known as one destined for the Roman Church. He therefore says, that he was a servant of Christ, and called to the office of an Apostle, thereby intimating that he had not presumptuously intruded into that office. He then adds, that he was chosen, (selectum — selected, (15)) by which he more fully confirms the fact, that he was not one of the people, but a particular Apostle of the Lord. Consistently with this, he had before proceeded from what was general to what was particular, as the Apostleship was an especial service; for all who sustain the office of teaching are to be deemed Christ’s servants, but Apostles, in point of honor, far exceed all others. But the choosing for the gospel, etc., which he afterwards mentions, expresses the end as well as the use of the Apostleship; for he intended briefly to show for what purpose he was called to that function. By saying then that he was servant of Christ, he declared what he had in common with other teachers; by claiming to himself the title of an Apostle, he put himself before others; but as no authority is due to him who willfully intrudes himself, he reminds us, that he was appointed by God.

Then the meaning is, — that Paul was a servant of Christ, not any kind of servant, but an Apostle, and that by the call of God, and not by presumptuous intrusion: then follows a clearer explanation of the Apostolic office, — it was ordained for the preaching of the Gospel. For I cannot agree with those who refer this call of which he speaks to the eternal election of God; and who understand the separation, either that from his mother’s womb, which he mentions in Galatians 1:15, or that which Luke refers to, when Paul was appointed for the Gentiles: but I consider that he simply glories in having God as the author of his call, lest any one should think that he had through his own rashness taken this honor to himself. (16)

We must here observe, that all are not fitted for the ministry of the word; for a special call is necessary: and even those who seem particularly fitted ought to take heed lest they thrust themselves in without a call. But as to the character of the Apostolic and of the Episcopal call, we shall consider it in another place. We must further observe, that the office of an Apostle is the preaching of the gospel. It hence appears what just objects of ridicule are those dumb dogs, who render themselves conspicuous only by their mitre and their crook, and boast themselves to be the successors of the Apostles!

The word, servant, imports nothing else but a minister, for it refers to what is official. (17) I mention this to remove the mistake of those who too much refine on this expression and think that there is here to be understood a contrast between the service of Moses and that of Christ.

He was an Apostle by a call, or as [Beza ] renders it, “by the call of God ex Dei vocatione apostolus.” The meaning is the same as what he himself expresses it in Galatians 1:1. [Turrettin ] renders it, “Apostolus vocatione divina — an Apostle by divine vocation.”

The difference between “a called Apostle” and “called to be an Apostle,” is this, that the first conveys the idea that he obeyed the call, and the other does not. — Ed.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Vv. 1 , 2. "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, an apostle by [his] call, separated unto the gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures."

Paul introduces himself in this Romans 1:1 with the utmost solemnity; he puts his whole letter under the authority of his apostleship, and the latter under that of God Himself. On the name Paul, see Introd. p. 16. After having thus presented his personality, he effaces it, as it were, immediately by the modest title of δοῦλος servant. We need not translate this term by the word slave, which in our modern languages suggests a more painful idea than the Greek term. The latter contains the two ideas of property and of obligatory service. It may consequently be applied to the relation which every Christian bears to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:22). If we take it here in this sense, the name would imply the bond of equality in the faith which unites Paul to his brethren at Rome. Yet as this letter is not a simple fraternal communication, but an apostolic message of the highest importance, it is more natural to take the word servant in a graver sense, the same as it certainly has in the address of the Epistle to the Philippians 1:1 : "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi." The term servant, thus contrasted with the term saints, evidently denotes a special ministry. In point of fact, there are men who are called to exemplify the general submission which all believers owe to the Lord, in the form of a particular office; they are servants in the limited sense of the word. The Received reading: of Jesus Christ, sets first in relief the historical person (Jesus), then His office of Messiah (Christ). This form was the one which corresponded best to the feeling of those who had first known Jesus personally, and afterward discovered Him to be the Messiah. And so it is the usual and almost technical phrase which prevailed in apostolic language. But the Vat. and the Vulg. read: χριστοῦ ᾿ιησου, of Christ Jesus; first the office, then the person. This form seems preferable here as the less usual. It corresponded to the personal development of Paul, who had beheld the glorified Messiah before knowing that He was Jesus. The title servant was very general, embracing all the ministries established by Christ; the title apostle denotes the special ministry conferred on Paul. It is the most elevated of all. While Christ"s other servants build up the church, either by extending it (evangelists) or perfecting it (pastors and teachers), the apostles, with the prophets (Christian prophets), have the task of founding it; comp. Ephesians 4:12. Paul was made a partaker of this supreme charge.

And he was so, he adds, by way of call. The relation between the two words called and apostle is not that which would be indicated by the paraphrase: "Called to be an apostle." This meaning would rather have been expressed by the participle ( κληθείς). In Romans 1:7, the corresponding phrase: called saints, has quite another meaning from: called to be saints (which would assume that they are not so). The meaning is: saints by way of call, which implies that they are so in reality. Similarly, Paul means that he is an apostle, and that he is so in virtue of the divine vocation which alone confers such an office. There is here no polemic against the Judaizers; it is the simple affirmation of that supreme dignity which authorizes him to address the church as he is now doing; comp. Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1. These two ideas, apostle and call, naturally carry our minds back to the time of his conversion. But Paul knows that his consecration to this ministry goes farther back still; and this is the view which is expressed in the following phrase: ἀφωρισμένος, set apart. This word, in such a context, cannot apply to any human consecration, such as that which he received along with Barnabas at Antioch, with a view to their first mission, though the same Greek term is used, Acts 13:2. Neither does it express the notion of an eternal election, which would have been denoted by the compound προωρισμένος, destined beforehand," as in the other cases where a decree anterior to time is meant. The expression seems to me to be explained by the sentence, Galatians 1:15, which is closely related to this: "But when it pleased God, who had separated me ( ἀφορίσας με) from my mother"s womb, and called me ( καλέσας με) by His grace." In this passage of the Galatians he comes down from the selection to the call, while here he ascends from the call to the selection. Let the reader recall what we have said, Introd. pp. 4 and 5 , as to the providential character of all the previous circumstances of Saul"s life. The apostle might well recognize in that whole chain the signs of an original destination to the task with which he saw himself invested. This task is expressed in the words: unto the gospel of God, εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ. If by the word gospel we understand, as is usually done, the contents of the divine message, then we must place the notion of preaching in the preposition εἰς, in order to, and paraphrase it thus: "in order to proclaim the gospel."

This meaning of the word gospel is hardly in keeping with the living character of primitive Christian language. The word rather denotes in the New Testament the act of gospel preaching; so a few lines below, Romans 1:9, and particularly 1 Thessalonians 1:5, where Paul says: "Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you." These words have no sense unless by our gospel, Paul means, our preaching of the gospel. In this case the preposition for preserves its simple meaning. The absence of the article before the words gospel and God, give to the words a sort of descriptive sense: a message of divine origin. The genitive θεοῦ, of God, here denotes the author of the message, not its subject; for the subject is Christ, as is mentioned afterward. Paul thus bears within him the unspeakably elevated conviction of having been set apart, from the beginning of his existence, to be the herald of a message of grace ( εὖ ἀγγέλλειν, to announce good news) from God to mankind. And it is as the bearer of this message that he addresses the church of Rome. If the apostle does not add to his name that of any fellow-laborer, as he does elsewhere, it is because he is doing this act in his official character as the apostle of the Gentiles, a dignity which he shares with no other. So it is Ephesians 1:1 (in similar circumstances).

But this preaching of salvation by the apostles has not dropped suddenly from heaven. It has been prepared or announced long before; this fact is the proof of its decisive importance in the history of humanity. This is what is expressed in Romans 1:2.

Several commentators think that the words: which He had promised afore, had no meaning, unless the word gospel, Romans 1:1, be taken as referring to salvation itself, not as we have taken it, to the act of preaching. But why could not Paul say that the act of evangelical preaching had been announced beforehand? "Who hath believed our preaching?" exclaims Isaiah (Isaiah 53:1), "and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" And Isaiah 52:7 : "How beautiful are the feet of him who bringeth good tidings, and who publisheth peace!" Finally, Isaiah 40:1-2 : "Comfort ye my people, your God will say...Cry unto Jerusalem, that her set time is accomplished." The apostle himself quotes these passages, Romans 10:15-16. The preaching of the gospel to Jews and Gentiles appears to him a solemn act marking a new era, the hour of universal salvation long expected; so he characterizes it also, Acts 17:30; Ephesians 3:5-7; Titus 1:3. It is not wonderful that his feelings rise at the thought of being the principal instrument of a work thus predicted! He thereby becomes himself a predicted person, continuing as he does the work of the prophets by fulfilling the future they announced. The πρό, beforehand, added to the word promise, is not a pleonasm; it brings out forcibly the greatness of the fact announced. The pronoun αὐτοῦ, "His prophets," denotes the close relation which unites a prophet to God, whose instrument he is. The epithet holy, by which their writings are characterized, is related to this pronoun. Holiness is the seal of their divine origin. The absence of the article before γραφαί, scriptures, has a descriptive bearing: "in scriptures which have this character, that they are holy."

Baur and his school find in this mention of the prophetic promises a proof of the Judeo-Christian origin of the majority of the church, and of the desire which the apostle had to please it. But the Old Testament was read and known in the churches of the Gentiles; and the object with which the apostle refers to the long theocratic preparation which had paved the way for the proclamation of salvation, is clear enough without our ascribing to him any so particular intention.

This mention of prophecy forms the transition to Romans 1:3, where Jesus is introduced in the first place as the Jewish Messiah, and then as the Son of God.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books".

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘A servant of Jesus Christ.’

Romans 1:1

It is the highest title that is known in earth or heaven—‘a servant of Jesus Christ.’

Service is based on love. Can you help to love Him Who has done all for you?—to love Him dearly? and, loving Him, must you not wish to prove your love? must not your first thought be, ‘What can I do for Him?’

I. Service is a willing surrender of the whole man; and you are at once the most perfectly free and the most absolutely bound. In the strong imagery of Scripture you have ‘given your ear to be bored through with an awl, to fasten you to the post of the door of your Master’s house.’ That is, by a voluntary act—for the love you have to Him—you rivet yourself to the service of Christ and His house the Church, for ever; and from that moment you are, and you feel, and you can say, ‘I am Thy servant.’

II. The next thing which follows this is, that now you are placed in such close communication with your Master, He tells you all His secrets.—And this is the great privilege of the slaves of Jesus. I say slaves—that is the right word—they like to be, and to be called ‘slaves.’ It is God’s own Word, though we have translated it ‘servants.’ And where it is all affection, the lordship cannot be too unrestricted and too bound. But Jesus says to these slaves, ‘Henceforth I call you not slaves, for the slave knoweth not what his Lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.’ So that we get to know not the commands of God only, but His will.

III. And there is another feature in the ‘service’ which makes it unlike every other.—You serve ‘the King of kings and Lord of lords’; but you serve One Who was once a servant! And He can appreciate a servant’s work. He understands it all.

Rev. James Vaughan.


‘An eminent Missioner says that he was once holding some special services when a woman came to him at the close of the Sunday morning service and said: “Oh, I would give anything to be in this work actively and actually. I would give anything to have some living part in the work that is going on here next week in winning men and women for Christ; but I don’t know what to do.” The Missioner said: “My sister, are you prepared to give the Master the five loaves and the two fishes you possess?” She said: “I don’t know that I have five loaves and two fishes.” The Missioner replied: “Have you anything that stands out at all in your life? Have you anything that you have used in any way especially?” No, she didn’t think she had. “Well,” said the Missioner, “can you sing?” “Well, yes, I sing at home, and I have sung before now in an entertainment.” “Well, now,” he said, “let us put our hand on that. Will you give the Lord your voice for the next ten days? You shall settle with Him at the end as to what you do then, but will you let the Master have your voice for the next ten days?” “I don’t think I can.” “You can sing at an entertainment—can’t you sing in order to save men?” “I will,” she said; and the Missioner says he shall never forget that Sunday evening he asked her to sing and she sang. She sang a Gospel message with the voice she had, feeling it was a poor, worthless thing, and that night there came out to the after-meeting into the inquiry-room one man who said it was the Gospel that was sung which had reached his heart. And from that day to this (and it is now many years ago) that man has been one of the mightiest workers for God in all England. It was brought about because the woman gave her whole self, in that decision, to the service of the Lord; she did what she could for Christ’s dear sake. It blessed her, and it glorified her service, and made it powerful for the salvation of men.’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Ver. 1. Paul] A little man, it should seem by his name (such as was James the Less, Mark 15:40): but as the Church of Philadelphia (discommended for nothing), though she had but a little strength, yet had a great door set open; and as Bethlehem was the least, and yet not the least among the princes of Judah; so was this apostle the last, 1 Corinthians 15:8; (and perhaps the least in stature), as one born out of due time. {a} But God (who loves to be maximus in minimis the greatest in the least) had designed him to great services, and gifted him accordingly, so that he was no whit behind the very chiefest of the apostles, 2 Corinthians 11:5; and for painstaking, he laboured more abundantly than they all, 1 Corinthians 15:10. Hence Chrysostom calleth him insatiabilem Dei cultorem, an insatiable servant of Christ. And himself seems as insatiable a praiser of this apostle (the apostle he commonly nameth him "by an excellency"), for he hath written eight homilies in his commendation. And if any think he hath said too much, it is because either they have not read him, or cannot judge his worth. Qui tricubitalis caelos transcendit (as the same father saith), little though he were, yet he got above the heavens. {b}

A servant of Jesus Christ] This is a higher title than monarch of the world, as Numa, second king of Rome, could say. {c} Constantinus, Valentinus, and Theodosius, three emperors, called themselves Vasallos Christi, the vassals of Christ, as Socrates reporteth.

{a} {See Trapp on "Acts 13:9"} Revelation 3:9; Matthew 2:6; cf. Micah 5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:8.

{b} Grandior solet esse Deus in parvulis quam in magnis. In formicis maior anima quam in elephantis, in nanis quam in gigantibus. Aut illum non audierunt, aut iudicare non possunt, ut olim de Crasso et Antonio dixit. Cicero de Orat.

{c} του θεου υπηρεσιαν βασιλευειν ενομιζεν. Plut.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Romans 1:1

I. The fact that a man like Paul, brought up as he was with such a brain and such a heart, turned the wrong way at first, should be capable of burning with such enthusiasm for a man of whose history he knew very little that was real or true until he saw Him in heavenly glory, that after that he should live to be the rejoicing slave of Jesus Christ,—is it a wonder that such a fact should weigh with me ten times more than the denial of the highest intellect of this world who gives me, by the very terms that he uses, the conviction that he knows nothing about what I believe? He talks as if he did, but he knows nothing about it. St. Paul knew the Lord Christ; and therefore, heart and soul, mind, body, and brain, he belonged to Jesus Christ, even as His born slave.

II. Let us try to understand what is meant by a slavery which is a liberty. There is no liberty but in doing right. There is no freedom but in living out of the deeps of our nature—not out of the surface. We are the born slaves of Christ. But then, He is liberty Himself, and all His desire is that we should be such noble, true, right creatures that we never can possibly do or think a thing that shall bind even a thread round our spirits and make us feel as if we were tied anywhere. He wants us to be free—not as the winds, not to be free as the man who owns no law, but to be free by being law, by being right, by being truth. St. Paul spent his whole life, all his thoughts, all his energies, simply to obey his Lord and Master, and so he was the one free man—not the only free man: there were some more amongst the apostles; and by his preaching here and there, there started up free men, or, at least, men who were beginning to grow free by beginning to be the slaves of Christ.

G. Macdonald, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 108.

References: Romans 1:1.—G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 254; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 75; H. E. Lewis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxi., p. 220. Romans 1:1-4.—A. M. Fairbairn, The City of God, p. 215. Romans 1:1-7.—Ibid., pp. 41-9; Expositor, 1st series, vol. ix., p. 105; vol. xi., pp. 309, 458; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. vi., p. 108; J. Vaughan, Sermons, 6th series, p. 37; W. B. Pope, Sermons, p. 175; W. J. Knox-Little, The Mystery of the Passion, p. 123. Romans 1:2.—Fletcher, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 1. Romans 1:2-5.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 253. Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. x., p. 149.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Romans 1:1. Paul, a servant, &c.— From this to the fifteenth verse we have the introduction to this epistle, in which St. Paul asserts his commission as the apostle to the Gentiles; throws in such reflections concerning the Gospel and our Lord, as were proper to arrest the attention of the Jews; and testifies his sincere affection to the Christians at Rome, and his earnest desire to preach the Gospel among them. The first seven verses of this chapter are but one complete period, every member of it representingto the mind of the devout reader some august mystery and edifying moral of our holy religion. The original word Δουλος is a bond-servant, or slave, who is the absolute property of his master, and bound to him for life. He terms himself a called or invited apostle, and therefore a true apostle,—as an invited guest is a true and proper guest. See on chap. Romans 8:23. Concerning his separation to the Gospel, as the judaizing teachers disputed St. Paul's claim to the apostolical office, it is with great proprietythat he asserts it in the very entrance of an epistle, in which he proposed an entire refutation of their principles. See Taylor, Locke, Calmet, and Blackwall

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, The author and penman of this epistle described:

1. By his name, Paul. Before his conversion he was called Saul, then Saul the persecuter; after his conversion he was Paul the professor, Paul the preacher, Paul the great doctor of the Gentiles. O wonderful power of the heart-changing grace of God! which is able to turn Sauls into Pauls; persecuters into professors; faithless sinners into faithful servants of Jesus Christ.

Observe, 2. He is described by his general office; a servant of Jesus Christ: an higher and more honourable title than that of emperor of the whole earth. Servire Christo est regnare: to serve Christ, especially in the quality of an ambassador, is a greater honour than to have the monarchs of the world to serve us, and bow the knee before us.

Observe, 3. He is described by his particular office, Called to be an apostle; that is, constituted and appointed by Christ to that holy function, without any merit or desert of his own. He did not assume the honour of an apostle till called; and when called, it was not any desert of his own, but the free and undeserved grace of God that called him.

Observe, 4. That as he was called to, so he is said to be separated for, the great work of preaching the gospel: separated unto the gospel of God; that is, set apart in the purpose and decree of God; separated from his mother's womb, Galatians 1:15. Immediately and extraordinarily called by Christ himself to this great work, Acts 9:15 and mediately by the officers of the church, Acts 13:2-3 &c.

The work of dispensing the mysteries of the everlasting gospel is to be undertaken by none but those who are solemnly separated and set apart for it, and regularly called to it. I would to God the herd of lay-preachers at this day would consider this. These usurpers of the sacred function can neither pray in faith for a blessing upon what they undertake, because they have no promise to bottom their faith upon, nor can the people expect to profit by what they hear from them; for this would be to expect God's blessing out of God's way.

Read with trembling what God says, I sent them not, neither commanded them, therefore shall they not profit this people at all. Jeremiah 23:32

Where mark, That the people's not profiting by these men, is not charged upon their false doctrine, but upon their want of a call and commission. It is not said, that their doctrine is unsound, but they preach unsent; therefore they shall not profit this people at all. These men contradict the command of God, the universal practice of the Christian church, violate the rules of order and right reason, and expose a most awful and tremendous ordinance of God to contempt and scorn; yea, lay it open to the bold presumption of every ignorant and impudent pretender.

Observe, 5. The glorious title given to the gospel, which St. Paul was called forth to preach: it is here styled the gospel of God, and elsewhere the gospel of Christ. It is the gospel of God, as he was the author and contriver of it; it is the gospel of Christ, as he is the subject-matter and scope of it. As Jesus Christ was the sum of the law, so is he the substance of the gospel. Indeed St. Paul sometimes calls it his gospel,Romans 2:16 because he was the dispenser and promulger of it; it was Depositum fidei suae commissum; "A divine treasure committed to his care and trust."

And if the gospel preached be the gospel of God, let us entertain it in our judgments, retain it in our memories, embrace it in our affections, hide it in our hearts, confess it in our mouths, and practise it in our lives.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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

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

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

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

εἰς] for the purpose of announcing.

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

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


Paul opens the Epistle with declaring his Apostleship. He salutes the Church, with the Profession of his brotherly Love: declares his willingness to visit them; and draws a faithful, but melancholy Picture of the Ungodly.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 1:1. παῦλος] See on Acts 13:9.

δοῦλοςεὐαγγ. θεοῦ is the exhaustive statement of his official dignity, proceeding from the general to the particular, by which Paul earnestly—as dealing with the Church of the metropolis of the world, which had as yet no personal knowledge of him—opens his Epistle as an official apostolic letter; without, however, having in view therein (as Flatt thinks) opponents and calumniators of his apostleship, for of the doings of such persons in Rome the Epistle itself contains no trace, and, had such existed, he would have set forth his dignity, not only positively, but also at the same time negatively (comp Galatians 1:1).

In the first place Paul describes by δοῦλος . χ. his relation of service to Christ, as his Ruler, whose servant he is, and that in general (comp on Philippians 1:1), just as the Old Testament עבד יהוה expresses the relation of service to Jehovah, without marking off in itself exclusively any definite class, such as the prophetic or the priestly (see Joshua 1:1; Joshua 14:7; Joshua 22:4; Judges 2:8; Psalms 131:3; comp Acts 16:17). This relation of entire dependence (Galatians 1:10; Colossians 4:12) is then specifically and particularly indicated by κλητὸς ἀπόστολος, and for this reason the former δοῦλος . χ. cannot be rendered merely in general Christi cultor (so Fritzsche), which is inadequate also at 1 Corinthians 7:22; Ephesians 6:6. Paul was called to his office, like all the earlier Apostles; he did not arrive at it by his own choice or through accidental circumstances. For the history of this divine calling, accomplished through the exalted Christ Himself, see Acts 9 (Acts 22:26), and the remarks thereon. This κλητός presented itself so naturally to the Apostle as an essential element(276) in the full description of his official position which he meant to give (comp 1 Corinthians 1:1), that the supposition of a side-glance at uncalled teachers (Cameron, Glöckler) seems very arbitrary.

ἀφωρισ΄ένος εἰς εὐαγγ. θεοῦ] characterizes the κλητὸς ἀπόστολος more precisely: set apart (definitely separated from the rest of mankind) for God’s message of salvation, to be its preacher and minister (see on Ephesians 3:7). The article before εὐαγγ. elsewhere invariably given in the N. T., is omitted here, because Paul views the message of God, of which he desires to speak, primarily under its qualitative aspect (comp also van Hengel and Hofmann). Concrete definiteness is only added to it gradually by the further clauses delineating its character. This mode of expression implies a certain festal tone, in harmony with the whole solemn character of the pregnant opening of the Epistle: for a gospel of God, which He promised before, etc. Still we are not to understand, with Th. Schott, a work of proclamation, since εὐαγγ. is not the work of conveying a message, but the message itself. θεοῦ is the genitive subjecti (auctoris), Romans 1:2, not objecti (Chrysostom). See on Mark 1:1. It is God who causes the message of salvation here referred to, which is His λόγος (Acts 10:36), to be proclaimed; comp Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 4:17. The destination of Apostle to the Gentiles is involved in ἀφωρ. εἰς εὐ. θ. though not expressed (as Beza and others think). Further, since ἀφωρ. is parallel with the previous κλητός, it is neither to be explained, with Toletus and others, including Olshausen, by Acts 13:2, nor with Reiche, Ewald and van Hengel (following Chrysostom and others) by Galatians 1:15, comp Jeremiah 1:5; but rather by Acts 9:15 ( σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς), comp Acts 26:16 ff. The setting apart took place as a historical fact in and with his calling at Damascus. Entirely different is the mode of presenting the matter in Galatians 1:15, where ἀφορίσας ΄ε ἐκ κοιλ. ΄ητρ as the act of predestination in the counsel of God, is placed before the καλέσας, as the historically accomplished fact. The view of Drusius (de sectis, ii. 2, 6) and Schoettgen (comp Erasmus and Beza), which Dr. Paulus has again adopted, viz. that Paul, in using the word ἀφωρ., alludes to his former Pharisaism (“the true Pharisee in the best sense of the word”), is based on the Peschito translation (see Grotius), but is to be rejected, because the context gives no hint of so peculiar a reference, for which also no parallel can be found in Paul’s other writings.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Romans 1:1. παῦλος, PAUL. The beginning of the Epistle, the inscription.(1) The Scriptures of the New Testament, as compared with the books of the Old Testament, have the epistolary form; and in those, not merely what has been written by Paul, Peter, James, and Jude, but also both the treatises of Luke, and all the writings of John. Nay, it is of more consequence, that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself wrote seven letters in His own name, by the hand of John (Revelation 2, 3); and the whole Apocalypse is equivalent to an epistle written by Himself. Epistles were usually sent, not to slaves, but to free men, and to those especially who had been emancipated; and the epistolary style of writing is better suited, than any other, for extending, as widely as possible, the kingdom of God, and for the most abundant edification of the souls of men. Moreover, Paul alone laboured in this field more than all the other apostles put together; for fourteen of his epistles are extant, of which various is the arrangement, various the division. He wrote one to the Hebrews, without prefixing his name to it; he added his name to the rest; and these were partly addressed to churches, partly to individuals; and in the present day they are arranged in volumes,(2) in such a way as that the one with the greatest number of verses is put first. But the chronological order is much more worthy of consideration, of which we have treated in the Ordo temporum, cap. 6.(3) When that matter is settled, both the apostolic history, and these very epistles, shed a mutual light on one another; and we perceive a correspondence of thoughts, and modes of expression, in epistles written at one and the same time, and concerning the same state of affairs [as the apostolic history—the Acts—describes]; and we also become acquainted with the spiritual growth of the apostle. There is one division, which, we think, ought to be particularly mentioned in this place. Paul wrote in one way to churches, which had been planted by his own exertions, but in a different way to those churches, to which he was not known by face. The former class of epistles may be compared to the discourses, which pastors deliver in the course of their ordinary ministrations; the latter class, to the discourses, which strangers deliver. The former are replete with the kindness, or else the severity, of an intimate friend, according as the state of the respective churches was more or less consistent with the Gospel; the latter present the truths of the Gospel as it were more unmixed, in general statements, and in the abstract; the former are more for domestic and daily use, the latter are adapted to holidays and solemn festivals,—comp. notes on ch. Romans 15:30. This epistle to the Romans is mostly of this latter description.— δοῦλοςιησο͂ υχριστο͂ υ, servant of Jesus Christ) This commencement and the conclusion correspond (Romans 15:15, etc.) χριστο͂ υ—͂ θεου, of Christ—of God) Everywhere in the epistles of Paul, and throughout the New Testament, the contemplation of God and of Christ is very closely connected; for example, Galatians 2:19, etc. [And it is also our privilege to have the same access to God in Christ.—V. g.]— κλητὸς ἀπόστολος, a called apostle), [called to be an apostle.—Eng. vers.] Supply, of Jesus Christ; for the preceding clause, a servant of Jesus Christ, is now more particularly explained. It is the duty of an apostle, and of a called apostle, to write also to the Romans. [The whole world is certainly under obligation to such a servant as this.—V. g.] The other apostles, indeed, had been trained by long intercourse with Jesus, and at first had been called to be followers and disciples, and had been afterwards advanced to the apostleship. Paul, who had been formerly a persecutor, by a call became suddenly [without the preparatory stage of discipleship] an apostle. So the Jews were saints [set apart to the Lord] in consequence of the promise; the Greeks became saints, merely from their being called, Romans 1:6, etc. There was therefore a special resemblance and connection between one called to be an apostle, and those whom he addressed, called to be saints. Paul applies both to himself and to the Corinthians a similar title (1 Corinthians 1:1-2); and that similarity in the designation of both reminds us of the ὑποτύπωσιν, pattern, or living exhibition [of Christ’s grace in Paul himself, as a sample of what others, who should believe, might expect], which is spoken of in 1 Timothy 1:16. While Christ is calling a man, He makes him what He calls him to be,—comp. ch. Romans 4:17; and that, too, quickly, Acts 9:3-15.— ἀφωρισμένος, separated) The root, or origin of the term Pharisee, was the same as that of this word; but, in this passage Paul intimates, that he was separated by God not only from men, from the Jews, and from the disciples, but also from teachers. There was a separation in one sense before (Galatians 1:15), and another after his call (Acts 13:2); and he refers to this very separation in the passage before us.— εἰς εὐαγγέλιον, to the Gospel) The conjugate verb follows Romans 1:2, προεπηγγείλατο, He had promised before. The promise was the Gospel proclaimed [announced beforehand], the Gospel is the promise fulfilled, Acts 13:32. God promised the Gospel, that is, He comprehended it in the promise. The promise was not merely a promise of the Gospel, but was the Gospel itself.(4)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible


Romans 1:1-7 Paul, commending to the Romans his calling, greets them,

Romans 1:8-15 and professes his concern for, and desire of coming to

see them.

Romans 1:16,17 He shows that the gospel is for the justification of

all mankind through faith.

Romans 1:18-32 And having premised that sinners in general are

obnoxious to God's wrath, he describes at large the

corruption of the Gentile world.

A servant of Jesus Christ, is a higher title than monarch of the world: several great emperors styled themselves Christ's vassals. He so calls himself, either in respect of his condition, which was common with him to all true Christians; or else in respect of his office. Of old, they who were in great offices were called the servants of God: see Joshua 1:1 Nehemiah 1:6 Psalms 132:10. Or else in respect of his singular and miraculous conversion: by reason of which, he thought himself so obliged to Christ, that he wholly addicted or devoted himself to his service.

Called to be an apostle; appointed to that high office by the immediate call of Christ himself: see Galatians 1:1 Titus 1:3. The history of this call you have in Acts 9:15.

Two things are couched in this phrase:

1. That he did not take this honour to himself, but was thereunto appointed and called of God.

2. That this apostolical dignity was not by any desert of his, but by grace only, and the free gift of him that calleth.

It was formerly matter of admiration, and so it became a proverb in Israel: Is Saul also among the prophets? And we may say, with great astonishment, Is Saul also among the apostles? He that a little before had seen him doing what he is recorded to have done, Acts 26:10,11, would never have dreamed of any such thing.

Separated; either from his mother's womb, in the purpose of God, Galatians 1:15; so Jeremiah of old, Jeremiah 1:5. Or else it may have respect to Acts 13:2, where the Holy Ghost did actually order he should be separated for the work to which he had called him. The Greek word, in both places, is the same. Or else it may respect the more immediate commission he had from Christ himself, Acts 9:15 26:16-18. Some think he alludes to the name of Pharisee, which is from separating: when he was a Pharisee, he was separated to the law of God; and now, being a Christian, he was separated to the gospel of God.

Unto the gospel of God; that is, to the preaching and publishing of it. The gospel is sometimes called the gospel of God, as in this place; and sometimes the gospel of Christ, as in Romans 1:16: it is said to be the gospel of God, because he is the author of it, it is not a human invention; and it is said to be the gospel of Christ, because he is the matter and subject of it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 1:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

A servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle; he first places himself with the whole body of believers as "a servant of Jesus Christ," and then, in accordance with his usual custom, asserts his apostolic calling; for when he writes to a church he wishes to do so with the authority of an apostle-one specially chosen and sent out by Christ himself, to preach his gospel, work miracles, gather churches, and extend his kingdom among men.

Separated; set apart by God for this work. Galatians 1:15.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

1. “Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.” Oiketees means “a hired servant”; doulos, the word here occurring, means “slave,” the signification at once beautiful and profound; a striking allusion to Old Testament slavery, which went out at the Jubilee. However, the law provided for the indefinite detention of such as were not willing to leave their masters, specifying in that case that the proprietor should nail his ear to the door-post, thus signifying that he should never go out of his house, but abide his slave forever. This is a beautiful symbolism. All sinners are Satan’s slaves. All truly sanctified people are God’s slaves. Meanwhile the unsanctified Christians rank as hired servants in the kingdom of God, serving for hire; e. g., preaching for a salary, et cetera. The sanctified gospel blows the Jubilee trumpet this day in all the world. Responsive to the trumpet call to sanctification, many reject and go back to the carnal freedom of Satan’s kingdom, serving God no longer. Praise the Lord, while they go back by thousands, rejecting holiness and forfeiting justification, yet they do not all go back. The elect few still, as in olden time, say: “Master, I will not leave thee.” “Then come up to the door-post and let me nail your ear, so that you shall abide in my house forever;” i. e., let me nail old Adam to the cross, and crucify him, thus sanctifying you wholly, so that you shall never go out of my house. How unutterably blessed to be the “Lord’s love slave.”

“Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness and lost in His love”

“An elect apostle, having been separated unto the gospel of God.” “Called” in the E. V. is the word for “elect.” We are nominated in regeneration, elected in sanctification, and crowned in glorification. Paul was utterly separated from the world for this work, as God’s elect people are this day.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.

Conformably to the practice of antiquity, Paul commences his Epistle by prefixing his name, title, and designation. He had, as was usual among his countrymen, two names: by the first, as a Jew, he was known in his own land; by the second, among the Gentiles. Formerly his name was SAUL, but after the occurrence related of him, Acts 13:9, he was called PAUL. Paul was of unmingled Jewish descent, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but educated at Jerusalem; a Pharisee by profession, and distinguished among the disciples of Gamaliel, one of the most celebrated teachers of his age and nation. Before his conversion, he was an ardent and bigoted supporter of the traditions of his fathers, violently opposed to the humbling doctrines of Christianity, and a cruel persecutor of the Church.

From the period of his miraculous conversion — from the hour when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus — down to the moment when he sealed his testimony with his blood, his eventful life was devoted to the promulgation of the faith which once he destroyed. Throughout the whole of his long and arduous course, he experienced a continual alternation of trials and graces, of afflictions and benedictions; always borne down by the hand of man, always sustained by the hand of God. The multiplied persecutions he endured, furnish a remarkable example of that just retribution which even believers seldom fail to experience in this world.

When scourged in the synagogues of the Jews — when persecuted from city to city, or suffering from cold and hunger in the dungeons of Nero — with what feelings must he have remembered the time when, ‘breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord,’ he ‘banished them oft in every synagogue,’ and, ‘being exceedingly mad against them, persecuted them even unto strange cities;’ or, when he was stoned at Lystra, and cast out of the city as dead, how must he have reflected on the prominent part he bore in the stoning of Stephen? A servant of Jesus — Paul, who once verily thought that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, now subscribes himself His servant — literally, slave. This is an expression both of humility and of dignity — of humility, to signify that he was not his own, but belonged to Jesus Christ; of dignity, to show that he was accounted worthy to be His minister, as Moses and Joshua are called the servants of God. It the first sense, it is an appellation common to believers, all of whom are the slaves, or exclusive property of Jesus Christ, who has purchased them for Himself by the right of redemption, and retains them by the power of His word and Holy Spirit. In the second view, it denotes that Jesus Christ had honored Paul by employing him in His Church, and making use of his services in extending the interests of His kingdom. He assumes this title to distinguish himself from the ministers or servants of men, and in order to command respect for his instructions, since he writes in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ. Called to be an Apostle, or a called Apostle. — Paul adds this second title to explain more particularly the first, and to show the rank to which he had been raised, and the employment with which he was entrusted. He was called to it by Jesus Christ Himself; for no man could bestow the office of an Apostle, or receive it from the hand of man, like the other offices in the church. Called, too, not merely externally as Judas, but internally and efficaciously; and called with a vocation which conferred on him all the qualities necessary to discharge the duties of the office he was appointed to; for the Divine calling is in this respect different from that which is merely human, inasmuch as the latter supposes those qualities to exist in the person called, while the former actually confers them. The state of Paul before his calling, and that in which his calling placed him, were directly opposite to each other.

The office to which Paul was called was that of an Apostle, which signifies one that is sent by another. The word in the original is sometimes translated messenger, but is specially appropriated in Scripture to those who were sent forth by Jesus Christ to preach His Gospel to the ends of the earth; and this appellation was given to the twelve by Himself, Luke 6:13, and has, as to them, a more specific signification than that of being sent, or being messengers. This office was the highest in the church, distinct from all others, in which, both from its nature and authority, the manner of its appointment, and the qualifications necessary for its discharge, those on whom it was conferred could have no successors. The whole system of the man of sin is built on the false assumption that he occupies the place of one of the Apostles. On this ground he usurps a claim to infallibility, as well as the power of working miracles, and in so far he is more consistent than others who, classing themselves with those first ministers of the word, advance no such pretensions.

As the Apostles were appointed to be the witnesses of the Lord, it was indispensably necessary that they should have seen Him after His resurrection. The keys of the kingdom of heaven were committed to them exclusively. They were to promulgate its laws, which bind in heaven and on earth, proclaiming that word by which all men shall be judged at the last day. When Jesus Christ said to them, ‘As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you,’ He pledged Himself for the truth of their doctrine; just as when the voice from the excellent glory proclaimed, ‘This is My beloved Son, hear Him,’ the Father set His seal to whatever His Son taught. In preaching the Divine word, though not in their personal conduct, the Apostles were fully inspired; and the Holy Scriptures, as indicted or sanctioned by them, are not the words of man, but the words of the Holy Ghost. The most awful anathema is accordingly annexed to the prohibition either to add to or take from the sacred record. Thus the Lord, who had appointed the Apostles not to a ministry limited or attached to a particular flock, but to one which extended generally through all places, to preach the Gospel in all the world, and to regulate the churches, endowed them with an infallible Spirit which led them into all truth. They were also invested with the gift of working miracles on every necessary occasion, and of exclusively communicating that gift to others by the laying on of their hands. From all this it followed that they were perfectly qualified to preach the everlasting Gospel, and possessed full authority in the churches to deliver to them those immutable and permanent laws to which thenceforth to the end of time they were to be subject. The names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb are accordingly inscribed in the twelve foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem; and all His people are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

Every qualification of an Apostle centered in Paul, as he shows in various places. He had seen the Lord after His resurrection, 1 Corinthians 9:1.

He had received his commission directly from Jesus Christ and God the Father, Galatians 1:1. He possessed the signs of an Apostle, 1 Corinthians 12:12. He had received the knowledge of the Gospel, not through any man, or by any external means, but by the, revelation of Jesus Christ, Galatians 1:11,12; and although he was as one born out of due time, yet, by the grace vouchsafed to him, he labored more abundantly than all the rest. When he here designates himself a called Apostle, he seems to refer to the insinuations of his enemies, who, from his not having been appointed during the ministry of our Lord, considered him as inferior to the other Apostles. The object of nearly the whole of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians is to establish his apostolic authority; in the third chapter especially, he exhibits the superiority of the ministration committed to the Apostles, over that entrusted to Moses. Thus the designation of servant, the first of the titles here assumed, denotes his general character; the second, of Apostle, his particular office; and the term Apostle being placed at the beginning of this Epistle, impresses the stamp of Divine authority on all that it contains. Separated unto the Gospel of God — This may regard either God’s eternal purpose concerning Paul, or His pre-ordination of him to be a preacher of the Gospel, to which he was separated from his mother’s womb, as it was said to Jeremiah 1:5, ‘Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified these and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations;’ or rather it refers to the time when God revealed His Son in him, that he might preach Him along the heathen, Galatians 1:16. The term separated, here used, appears to allude to his having been a Pharisee before his conversion, which signifies one separated or set apart. Now, however, he was separated in a far different manner; for then it was by human pride, now it was by Divine grace. Formerly he was set apart to uphold the inventions and traditions of men, but now to preach the Gospel of God. The Gospel of God to which Paul was separated, signifies the glad tidings of salvation which God has proclaimed. It is the supernatural revelation which He has given, distinguished from the revelation of the works of nature. It denotes that revelation of mercy and salvation, which excels in glory, as distinguished from the law, which was the revelation of condemnation. It is the Gospel of God, inasmuch as God is its author, its interpreter, its subject: its author, as He has purposed it in His eternal decrees; its interpreter, as He Himself hath — declared it to men; its subject, because in the Gospel His sovereign perfections and purposes towards men are manifested. For the same reasons it is also called the Gospel of the grace of God, the Gospel of peace, the Gospel of the kingdom, the Gospel of salvation, the everlasting Gospel, the glorious Gospel of the blessed God. This Gospel is the glad tidings from God of the accomplishment of the promise of salvation that had been made to Adam. That promise had been typically represented by the institution of sacrifice, and transmitted by oral tradition. It had been solemnly proclaimed by Enoch and by Noah before the flood; it had been more particularly announced to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; by Moses, it was exhibited in those typical representations contained in the law, which had a shadow of good things to come. Its fulfillment was the spirit and object of the whole prophetic testimony, in the predictions concerning a new covenant, and in all that was foretold respecting the advent of the Messiah.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". 1835.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Exordium and Thesis, Romans 1:1-17.

The Exordium consists of three parts: the superscription, (Romans 1:1-7,) the direct address, (Romans 1:8-17,) closing with the introduction of the thesis.

1. Paul—The superscription (Romans 1:1-7) is one magnificently rounded sentence, worthy the chief apostle addressing the imperial city. This too consists of three parts: the personal style of the writer, (Romans 1:1,) the surpassing nature of his topic, (Romans 1:2-5,) and the direction of his letter to the Roman Christians, (Romans 1:7.)

Paul—Instead of signing the name at the end, as in modern times, the ancient mode was to place the name at the beginning of the letter. (For the name Paul see our note on Acts 13:9.)

Servantδουλος, derived from δεω, to bind, so signifying a bondsman. (On the New Testament word for slave see note on Luke 7:2.) To be a doulos of a Divine Master is a high honour; but no Greek writer ever uses the phrase, andrapodon of God or Christ. Just so in English we may say servant of God, but never slave of God.

Called—Literally, a called apostle. A noble self-assertion against those who pronounced him an uncalled apostle, and so no apostle at all. (On the word called see note on Matthew 22:14.) The distinction made in predestinarian theology between God’s common call and his “effectual call” upon sinners to repent, implies that God does not truly mean his common call to be effectual, and so imputes insincerity to God. The true distinction lies not in the intrinsic nature of God’s call itself, but in the different acceptance by man. There is truly a rejected calling and an obeyed calling, and those who obey God’s call become permanently the called. Paul was called, (see note Acts 9:9,) and being not disobedient to the heavenly vision his was an obeyed calling, and so his “effectual” and permanent calling.

Separated—In this lofty self-assertion the apostle declares that he was not only called at mature age, but even set apart for his great calling, like Jeremiah, before his birth. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5.) For, knowing of him, as God did of Abraham, (note Genesis 18:19,) how he would faithfully discharge his office, God individualized him even before his birth as a great instrument, in his day, for the performance of a great mission. It was none the less in his power, like Solomon or like Judas, to apostatize and become a castaway: nay, it required the highest power of will on his own part to avoid such a result.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. The writer1:1

As in all his epistles, Paul used his Roman rather than his Jewish name, Saul, perhaps because he was the apostle to the Gentiles. Even though he had not yet visited Rome his readers knew Paul"s reputation well. He just needed to give his name to identify himself.

In his relationship to Jesus Christ, Paul was a bond-servant (Greek doulos). Some translators have rendered this word "slave," but Paul was a willing servant of Christ (cf. Philippians 2:7). This term is the equivalent of the Old Testament "servant of the Lord" (e.g, Moses, Joshua , Elijah, Nehemiah , and especially David). Paul shared this status with his readers.

"He regarded himself as the purchased possession of his Lord and Master. The two ideas of property and service are suggested. There was no serfdom or servility, and yet there was an absolute loyalty in the consciousness of absolute possession. The bond-servant owned nothing, and was nothing, apart from his master. His time, his strength, everything belonged altogether to another. There was nothing nobler to St. Paul than to be a slave of the Lord Jesus. He desired to be nothing, to do nothing, to own nothing apart from Him." [Note: Thomas, pp38-39.]

The title "apostle" gives Paul"s gift and office in the church. He was Jesus Christ"s special appointee. This status gave him the right not only to preach the gospel but to found, to supervise, and even to discipline churches if necessary. The basis of his authority, the right to his office, was God"s calling (cf. Romans 1:6-7). [Note: See R. D. Culver, "Apostles and the Apostolate in the New Testament," Bibliotheca Sacra134:534 (April-June1977):131-43.]

""Called" means designated and set apart by an action of God to some special sphere and manner of being and of consequent activity." [Note: William R. Newell, Romans Verse by Verse, p3. Italics removed.]

"Paul never thought of himself as a man who had aspired to an honour; he thought of himself as a man who had been given a task." [Note: Barclay, p2.]

The particular extent of his work, the scope of his calling, was quite narrow, namely, to proclaim the gospel (good news) of God. As a Pharisee, Paul had lived a life set apart to observing the Mosaic Law and Jewish customs strictly. Now his calling was to proclaim the gospel ( Acts 9:15; Galatians 1:12).

"Concentration thus follows consecration and commission." [Note: Thomas, p39.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 1:1. Paul. See Gen. Introd., § 1, and Acts throughout.

A servant of Jesus Christ. The word ‘servant’ here means ‘bondman,’ expressing the fact that Paul personally belonged to Jesus Christ, rather than the idea of service in His behalf. Another word conveys the latter sense. Any unpleasant thought connected with the former idea is removed by the character of the Master, Jesus Christ. This term of humility and dependence is the most honorable of all titles.

Called to be an Apostle. Here he simply asserts the fact of his apostolic dignity and authority; in writing to the Galatians, he was forced to defend his apostleship (comp. the enlarged description of the word in Galatians 1:1). He received the call on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:15; Acts 26:17); his call coincided with his conversion; it was confirmed in the temple at Jerusalem (Acts 9:28; Acts 22:17-21). His setting apart at Antioch (Acts 13:2-3) was not the call, but a formal recognition of the call on the part of the Church there, and for a special mission. The title is an official one, and while it might at first refer to any messenger, in the early Church it was soon restricted to the Twelve and to Paul, as chosen witnesses of the resurrection, selected to lay the foundation of the Christian Church. Paul was not one of the Twelve, but represented the independent apostolate of the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9). As preachers and missionaries the Apostles must have successors, but as inspired and authoritative witnesses for Christ, called directly by him for the whole world, they have none.

Set apart. This explains the apostleship. Paul was selected from the world, singled out, consecrated to, and destined for the gospel service. In one sense this took place at is birth (comp. Galatians 1:15, where the same word occurs); but the reference here is probably to the call to be an Apostle, especially as the tense used is not the same as in Galatians, but points to a past act with a continuous result.

Unto the gospel of God. This was that for which he was set apart. The gospel is ‘of God,’ having Him as its author; it is about Christ (Romans 1:3-4).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Romans 1:1. Paul’s description of himself. δοῦλος . χ. The use of the same expression in James, Jude, 2 Pet., shows how universal in the Church was the sense of being under an obligation to Christ which could never be discharged. It is this sense of obligation which makes the δουλεία, here referred to, perfect freedom. κλητὸς ἀπόστολος is an Apostle by vocation. No one can take this honour to himself, any more than that of a saint (Romans 1:7), unless he is called by God. In the N.T. it is always God who calls. It is as an Apostle—i.e., with the sense of his vocation as giving him a title to do so—that Paul writes to the Romans. ἀπόστολος is here used in the narrower sense, which includes only Paul and the twelve, see on Romans 16:7. ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ: for καλεῖν and ἀφορίζειν similiarly combined, see Galatians 1:15. The separation is here regarded (as in Gal.) as God’s act, though, as far as it had reference to the Gentile mission, it was carried out by an act of the Church at Antioch (Acts 13:2, ἀφορίσατε δή μοι κ. τ. λ.). What it means is “this one thing I do”. εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ is the Gospel which comes from God, the glad tidings of which He is the source and author. As a name for the Christian religion, or the proclamation of it, it had a great fascination for an evangelist like Paul, who uses it out of all proportion oftener than any other N.T. writer.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary



Vocatus, Greek: kletos Apostolos. Also ver. 6. and 7. Greek: kletoi.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible



Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called {to be} an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

"Paul" -meaning "little". It was a favorite name among the Cilicians (Acts 22:3). According to some both "Saul" and "Paul" were names borne by this man since childhood. "Saul" being his Hebrew name and "Paul" being his Roman/Greek name.

"Servant" -a bondservant. He wasn"t a servant of sin, Jesus Christ was his Master. He is completely at the disposal of Jesus.

"Called to be an apostle"-an apostle by vocation, he was not a self-appointed apostle. (Galatians 1:15; 1 Corinthians 9:16-17)

"Separated" -set apart. But Paul was set apart for something, i.e. the Gospel of God.

"Someone has said: "Don"t simply be good. Be good for something.""

"Gospel of God"-it is the good news from God, not man. Man didn"t invent this message. (1 Corinthians 2:9 ff)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Paul. Paul"s name heads all his Epistles, except Hebrews.

servant. Greek. doulos. App-190. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:5. Galatians 1:1, Galatians 1:10. Philippians 1:1, Philippians 1:1. Titus 1:1.

Jesus Christ. App-98. XL

called, &c. Literally a called apostle; called at his conversion (Acts 26:17, Acts 26:18).

apostle. App-189.

separated = set apart. Greek. aphorizo. Compare Acts 13:2; Acts 19:9. 2 Corinthians 6:17. Galatians 1:1, Galatians 1:15; Galatians 2:12. Note the three stages in Paul"s "separation" for God"s purpose: birth (Galatians 1:1, Galatians 1:15, Galatians 1:16); conversion (Acts 9:15); work (Acts 13:2).

unto. Greek. eis. App-104.

the gospel of God: i.e. the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24. Compare Acts 15:7), not the "gospel of the kingdom". See App-140. .

God. App-98.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

The Salutation (Romans 1:1-7)

Instead of the "greeting" [ chairein (Greek #5463)] familiar to us in the epistolary compositions of the Greeks, and once used in the New Testament (James 1:1), the Pauline Epistles begin with a benediction on those addressed, as do also the second of John and that to Jude. Unique, however, to the salutation of the present Epistle is the addition here of doctrinal statements (as Olshausen observes), by means of which it is converted into a small self-contained whole. In the Epistles to the Galatians and to Titus a similar peculiarity may be observed, but in a less degree. So rich and exuberant is the Salutation here, that it will conduce to clearness to subdivide it into its several parts.

Being a comparative stranger to those whom he is about to address, the Epistle opens with an account of himself.

The Writer's Three-fold Account of Himself (Romans 1:1)

Paul (on this name, see the note at Acts 13:9), a servant of Jesus Christ , [ Ieesou (Greek #2424) Christou (Greek #5547) - not Christou (Greek #5547) Ieesou (Greek #2424), with Tischendorf and Tregelles, on the sole authority of B and the Old Latin Vulgate, with Augustine and Ambrose (who doubtless followed their own Latin version); while the Received Text is supported by all the other Uncials, many cursives, several ancient versions, and Greek and Latin fathers: Lachmann abides by the Received Text.] In the New Testament several words are used for "servant," all of which, except one, convey the idea of free service [ therapoon (Greek #2324), hupeeretees (Greek #5257), oiketees (Greek #3610), diakonos (Greek #1249), pais (Greek #3816) - this last word being used with the same latitude as garcon in French]. The one denoting bond-service, is that here used [ doulos (Greek #1401)] - see Galatians 3:28; 1 Timothy 6:1; Revelation 6:15, Gr. It is a word of more frequent occurrence than all the rest, and properly means 'slave.' Accordingly, Luther renders it by the word which denotes menial service ('Knecht'), Conybeare, 'a bondsman;' Green, 'a bond-servant.' But since the repulsive ideas which servility suggests to our minds is apt to cling unpleasantly to such terms, it is perhaps better to avoid them in translating-always bearing in mind, however, that in expressing the relation of Christ's servants to Himself, this term invariably means, 'one who is the property of another,' and so is 'subject to his will, and wholly at his disposal.' Among the earliest Christians, indeed, so great was felt to be the honour and privilege of standing in such a relation to Christ, that it absorbed every repulsive association attaching to the word that expressed it, insomuch that in the Apocalypse it is employed to express the standing even of the glorified saints to God and the Lamb; while their services in that capacity are expressed by the term denoting religious service - "His servants [ douloi (Greek #1401)] shall serve Him" [ latreusousin (Greek #3000)] (Revelation 22:3).

In this sense, then-that of entire subjection and devotion to another-it is applied in the New Testament to the disciples of Christ at large (Romans 6:22; Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 7:21-23; Revelation 19:2; Revelation 19:5), as in the Old Testament it had been applied to all the people of God (Psalms 135:1; Isaiah 65:13; Daniel 3:26). But over and above this, as the prophets and kings of Israel had in an official sense been called "the servants of Yahweh" [ `abdeey (Hebrew #5650) Yahweh (Greek #3068)] (Deuteronomy 34:5; Joshua 1:1), so do the apostles of the Lord Jesus style themselves "the servants of Christ," expressing thereby such subjection and devotion to Him as they would never have yielded to a mere creature. In the same spirit the Baptist spoke of himself as unworthy to do for his Master, Christ, the most ordinary office of a slave (Mark 1:7). In this absolute sense, then, does the writer here call himself "a servant of Jesus Christ."

Called [to be] an apostle , But next he describes himself as "called [to be] an apostle", [ kleetos (Greek #2822) apostolos (Greek #652)]. Some render this 'a called apostle;' but as that would seem to imply that there might be apostles who were not called, we think the rendering of our version is to be preferred. The calling here referred to is that glorious manifestation of Christ which placed him on a level with the original Twelve (1 Corinthians 15:7-8; Acts 26:16-18).

Separated unto the gospel. Finally, he describes himself as "separated unto the gospel." At three distinct stages of his life he was divinely "separated;" and the same word is used to express them all. First, at his birth, "When it pleased God, who separated me [ aforisas (Greek #873)] from my mother's womb" (Galatians 1:15) - so ordering all the circumstances of it, and all the events succeeding it, up to the time of his conversion, as to train him for his great work as a servant of Christ. Next, when called at once to the faith and the apostleship of Christ, he was officially "separated [ afoorismenos (Greek #873)] unto the Gospel" as here expressed. Lastly, in the church at Antioch, immediately before his designation to the missionary vocation, "the Holy Spirit said, Separate me [ aforisate (Greek #873)] Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2).

The gospel of God - meaning, not the Gospel 'about God' (as Chrysostom takes it), but the Gospel of which God is the glorious Author (as Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 4:17). He calls it "the Gospel of God" here, because in the next two verses he was going to speak more immediately of what God had to do with it.

(2.) This Gospel Is No Novelty, but only the Fulfillment of Ancient Prophecy

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(1) Servant.—More strictly, here as elsewhere in the New Testament, slave; and yet not wrongly translated “servant,” because the compulsory and degrading side of service is not put forward. The idea of “slavery” in the present day has altogether different associations.

Separated.—Compare especially Acts 13:2 (“Separate me Barnabas and Saul”), where human instruments—the leaders of the Church at Antioch—are employed to carry out the divine will. The reference here is to the historical fact of the selection of St. Paul to be an Apostle; in Galatians 1:15 (“it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb”), it is rather to the more distant act of divine predestination.

Unto the gospel of God.—Singled out and set apart to convey the message of salvation from God to man. The ambiguous genitive, the gospel of God, seems to mean, “the gospel which proceeds from God,” “of which God is the author;” not “of which God is the object.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Acts 13:9; 21:40; 22:7,13; 26:1,14
a servant
9; 15:16; 16:18; John 12:26; 13:14-16; 15:15,20; Acts 27:23; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1; 2:11; 3:6,7; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1; Revelation 1:1; 22:6,9
5; 11:13; Acts 9:15; 22:14,15,21; 26:16-18; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 9:1,16-18; 15:8-10; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 11:5; 12:11; Galatians 1:1,11-17; Ephesians 1:1; 3:5-7; 4:11; Colossians 1:1,25; 1 Timothy 1:1,11,12; 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; Titus 1:1; Hebrews 5:4
Leviticus 20:24-26; Numbers 16:9,10; Deuteronomy 10:8; 1 Chronicles 23:13; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5; Acts 13:2-4; Galatians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:15,16; Hebrews 7:26
the gospel
9,16; 15:16,29; 16:25; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 2:10,11; Acts 20:24; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14; 1 Timothy 1:11

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians


This chapter consists of two parts. The first extends to the close of Romans 1:17, and contains the general introduction to the epistle. The second commences with Romans 1:18, and extends to the end of the chapter: it contains the argument of the apostle to prove that the declaration contained in Romans 1:16, Romans 1:17, that justification can only be obtained by faith, is true with regard to the heathen.



This section consists of two parts. The first from Romans 1:1-7 inclusive, is a salutatory address; the second, from Romans 1:8-17, is the introduction to the epistle. Paul commences by announcing himself as a divinely commissioned teacher, set apart to the preaching of the gospel, Romans 1:1. Of this gospel, he says,

1. That it was promised, and of course partially exhibited in the Old Testament, Romans 1:2.

2. That its great subject was Jesus Christ, Romans 1:3. Of Christ he says, that he was, as to his human nature, the Son of David; but as to his divine nature, the Son of God, Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4. From this Divine Person he had received his office as an apostle. The object of this office was to bring men to believe the gospel; and it contemplated all nations as the field of its labor, Romans 1:5. Of course the Romans were included, Romans 1:6. To the Roman Christians, therefore, he wishes grace and peace, Romans 1:7. Thus far the salutation.

Having shown in what character, and by what right he addressed them, the apostle introduces the subject of his letter by expressing to them his respect and affection. He thanks God, not only that they believed, but that their faith was universally known and talked of, Romans 1:8. As an evidence of his concern for them, he mentions,

1. That he prayed for them constantly, Romans 1:9.

2. That he longed to see them, Romans 1:10, Romans 1:11.

3. That this wish to see them arose from a desire to do them good, and to reap some fruit of his ministry among them, as well as among other Gentiles, Romans 1:12, Romans 1:13.

Because he was under obligation to preach to all men, wise and unwise, he was therefore ready to preach even at Rome, Romans 1:14, Romans 1:15. This readiness to preach arose from the high estimate he entertained of the gospel. And his reverence for the gospel was founded not on its excellent system of morals merely, but on its efficacy in saving all who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles, Romans 1:16. This efficacy of the gospel arises from its teaching the true method of justification, that is, the method of justification by faith, Romans 1:17. It will be perceived how naturally and skillfully the apostle introduces the two great subjects of the epistle — the method of salvation, and the persons to whom it may properly be offered.


Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle. Agreeably to the ancient mode of epistolary address, the apostle begins with the declaration of his name and office. It was his office which gave him the right to address the believers at Rome, and elsewhere, with that tone of authority which pervades all his epistles. Speaking as the messenger of Christ, he spake as he spake, as one having authority, and not as an ordinary teacher.

The original name of the apostle was Saul, ωθρΰε΄μ demanded. He is first called Paul in Acts 13:9. As this change of his name is mentioned in the paragraph which contains the account of the conversion of Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus, some have supposed that the name was assumed in compliment to that distinguished convert. This supposition does not seem to accord with the apostle's character, and is, on other grounds, less probable than either of the two following. First, as it was not unusual, among the Jews, to change the name of a person in consequence of some remarkable event, as in the case of Abraham and Jacob, Genesis 17:5; Genesis 32:28; or when he was advanced to some new office or dignity, Genesis 41:45; Daniel 1:6, Daniel 1:7; so that a new name is sometimes equivalent to a new dignity, Revelation 2:17 it may be supposed that the apostle received the name of Paul, when called to the office of an apostle. This supposition is favored by the consideration that he received the name soon after he entered upon the public exercise of his apostleship, and by the fact that Simon was called Cephas when called to be an apostle, John 1:42; Matthew 10:2, and that James and John were called Boanerges, Mark 3:17. Hence Theophylact says that it was in order that even in this matter, he should not be behind the very chief of the apostles, that Saul was called Paul. Second, as it was very common for those Jews who had much intercourse with the heathen to bear two names, one Jewish and the other Greek or Roman, which names were sometimes entirely distinct, as Hillel and Pollio, sometimes nearly related as Silas and Silvanus, it is very probable that this was the case with the apostle. He was called Saul among the Jews, and Paul among the Gentiles; and as he was the Apostle of the Gentiles, the latter name became his common designation. As this change was, however, made or announced at an epoch in the apostle's history, Acts 13:9 the two explanations may be united. "The only supposition," says Dr. J. A. Alexander, in his comment on Acts 13:9 "which is free from all these difficulties, and affords a satisfactory solution of the facts in question, is, that this was the time fixed by Divine authority for Paul's manifestation as Apostle of the Gentiles, and that this manifestation was made more conspicuous by its coincidence with his triumph over a representative of unbelieving and apostate Judaism, and the conversion of an official representative of Rome, whose name was identical with his own apostolic title."

In calling himself a servant (bondsman) of Jesus Christ, he may have intended either to declare himself the dependent and worshipper of Christ, as all Christians are servants (slaves) of Christ, Ephesians 6:6; or to express his official relation to the church as the minister of Christ. This is the more probable explanation, because, in the Old Testament ςζαζγ ιΐηεθιδ, servant of the Lord, is common official designation of any one employed in the immediate service of God, Joshua 1:1, Joshua 24:29; Jeremiah 29:19; Isaiah 42:1; and because in the New Testament we find the same usage, not only in the beginning of several of the epistles, as "Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ," Philippians 1:1, "James, the servant of God and of Jesus Christ" James 1:1, "Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ," 2 Peter 1:1; but also in other cases where the word הןץ ͂ כןע is interchanged with היב ́ ךןםןע minister. Comp. Colossians 1:7, Colossians 4:7, Colossians 4:12. It is, therefore, a general official designation of which in the present case, apostle is the specific explanation. "Apostolatus ministerii est species." Calvin. It has also been properly remarked, that as the expression, servant of Christ, implies implicit obedience and subjection, it supposes the Divine authority of the Redeemer. That is, we find the apostle denying that he was the servant of men, rejecting all human authority as it regards matters of faith and duty, and yet professing the most absolute subjection of conscience and reason to the authority of Jesus Christ.

ךכחפן ́ ע ב ̓ נן ́ ףפןכן ̔, called an apostle. Paul was not only a servant of Christ, but by Divine appointment an apostle. This idea is included in the word ךכחפן ́ ע; which means not only called, but chosen, appointed; and the ךכח ͂ ףיע, or vocation, as well of believers to grace and salvation, as of the apostles to their office is uniformly ascribed to God or Christ; see Galatians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Titus 1:1; Galatians 1:15. As the immediate call of Christ was one of the essential requisites of an apostle, Paul means to assert in the use of the word ךכחפן ́ ע that he was neither self-appointed nor chosen by men to that sacred office.

The word ב ̓ נן ́ ףפןכןע; occurs in its original sense of messenger in several cases in the New Testament. John 13:16 ןץ ̓ ך ו ̓́ ףפי ב ̓ נן ́ ףפןכןע לוי ́ זשם פןץ ͂ נו ́ לרבםפןע בץ ̓ פן ́ ם. Philippians 2:25 — ֵנבצסן ́ היפןםץ ̔ לש ͂ ם הו ב ̓ נן ́ ףפןכןם. Comp. Philippians 4:18. In 2 Corinthians 8:23 Paul, speaking of the brethren who were with him, calls them ב ̓ נן ́ ףפןכןי ו ̓ ךךכחףיש ͂ ם ; פןץפו ́ ףפים says Chrysostom, ץ ̔ נן ו ̓ ךךכחףיש ͂ ם נולצטו ́ םפוע. Theophylact adds, ךבי ̀ קויסןפןםחטו ́ םפו Ϛ. Our translators, therefore, are doubtless correct in rendering this phrase, messengers of the churches. As a strict official designation, the word apostle is confined to those men selected and commissioned by Christ himself to deliver in his name the message of salvation. It appears from Luke 6:13, that the Savior himself gave them this title. "And when it was day, he called his disciples, and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles." If it be asked why this name was chosen, it is perhaps enough to say, that it was peculiarly appropriate. It is given to those who were sent by Christ to perform a particular service, who were therefore properly called messengers. There is no necessity to resort for an explanation of the term, to the fact that the word ξημΐΰθκΐ messenger, was applied sometimes to the teachers and ministers of the synagogue, sometimes to plenipotentiaries sent by the Sanhedrim to execute some ecclesiastical commission.

The apostles, then, were the immediate messengers of Christ, appointed to bear testimony to what they had seen and heard. "Ye also shall bear witness," said Christ, speaking to the twelve, "because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:27). This was their peculiar office; hence when Judas fell, one, said Peter, who has companioned with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, must be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. Acts 1:21. To be an apostle, therefore, it was necessary to have seen Christ after his resurrection, 1 Corinthians 9:1, and to have a knowledge of his life and doctrines derived immediately from himself. Without this no man could be a witness, he would only report what he had heard from others, he could bear no independent testimony to what he himself had seen and heard. Christ, therefore, says to his disciples, after his resurrection, "Ye shall be my witnesses," Acts 1:8, and the apostles accordingly constantly presented themselves in this character. Acts 2:32, Acts 3:15, Acts 13:31. "We are witnesses," said Peter, speaking of himself and fellow-apostles, "of all things which he did, both in the land of Judea, and in Jerusalem." Acts 10:39. When Paul was called to be an apostle, the Savior said to him, "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee." Acts 26:16. We accordingly find, that whenever Paul was called upon to defend his apostleship, he strenuously asserted that he was appointed not of men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ; and as to his doctrines, that he neither received them of man, neither was he taught them, but by revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:12.

As the testimony which the Apostles were to bear related to all that Jesus had taught them, it was by preaching the gospel that they discharged their duty as witnesses. Hence Paul says, "Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel." 1 Corinthians 1:17. To the elders of Ephesus he said, "I count not my life dear unto me, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24.

To give authority to this testimony the apostles were inspired, and as religious teachers infallible. John 14:26, John 16:13. They had the power of working miracles, in confirmation of their mission. Matthew 10:8 and the Acts of the Apostles passim. This power they could communicate to others by the laying on of their hands. Acts 9:15, Acts 9:17, Acts 9:18; Acts 19:6. This is what is meant by giving the Holy Ghost, for the apostles never claimed the power of communicating the sanctifying influences of the Spirit. Nor was the power of giving the Spirit, in the sense above-mentioned, peculiar to them, for we read that Ananias, a disciple, was sent to Paul that he might receive the Holy Ghost. Acts 9:17. The apostles seem also to have had the gift of "discerning spirits," 1 Corinthians 12:10 and of remitting sins, John 20:23. They ordained presbyters over the congregations gathered by their ministry, Acts 14:23, etc.; and exercised a general jurisdiction over the churches. 1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 10:6, 2 Corinthians 10:8, 2 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Timothy 1:20. The apostles, therefore, were the immediate messengers of Jesus Christ, sent to declare his gospel, endued with the Holy Spirit, rendering them infallible as teachers, and investing them with miraculous powers, and clothed with peculiar prerogatives in the organization and government of the Church.

It is in explanation of his apostolic office, and in the further assertion of his divine commission that Paul adds, ב ̓ צשסיףלו ́ םןע וי ̓ ע וץ ̓ בדדו ́ כיןם טוןץ ͂, separated unto the gospel of God. — ֱצןסי ́ זוים is to limit off, to separate, to select from among others. It is so used in Leviticus 20:24, Leviticus 20:26, "I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people." In the same sense, in Galatians 1:15, "when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb;" that is, who singled me out, or chose me. It is obvious, therefore, that the apostle here refers to his appointment by God to his office. In Acts 13:2, it is said, "Separate ( ב ̓ צןסי ́ ףבפו) unto me Barnabas and Saul," where a separation not to the ministry, much less to the apostleship, but to a special mission is referred to. Paul's designation to office was neither of man, nor by man, Galatians 1:1. The words וי ̓ ע וץ ̓ בדדו ́ כיןם, unto the gospel, express the object to which he was devoted when thus separated from the mass of his brethren; it was to preach the gospel. The divine origin of the gospel is asserted in calling it the gospel of God. It is the glad annunciation which God makes to men of the pardon of sin, of restoration to his favor, of the renovation of their nature, of the resurrection of the body, and of eternal life.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:1". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians.

: Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called (to be) an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Paul was a spokesperson for God ( Romans 9:1; 1 Corinthians 2:13). When he described himself to the Romans , he used the word "servant" (doulos). This word, which is often found in the New Testament, is equivalent to slave. It meant a person was owned by another. In the New Testament this term normally has a figurative sense that "covers three basic areas: (1) the Christian as a doulos of God; (2) the Christian as a doulos to other Christians; (3) Christ as the doulos of God" (CBL, GED, 2:175). The word slave would have been meaningful to these readers because the Roman Empire had an estimated60 million slaves.

Paul knew he was owned by the Lord and said so in places like. He was a slave who was proud of his master ( Galatians 1:1; Titus 1:1), and he had bound himself to Christ both mentally and physically ( Romans 7:25; 2 Corinthians 10:5). A passage in the Old Testament which may have influenced Paul's thinking is Exodus 21:2-6.

Barclay ( Romans , p2) noted, "In the Old Testament it is the regular word which describes the great men of God. Moses was the servant, the slave, the doulos of the Lord ( Joshua 1:2). Joshua himself was the doulos of God ( Joshua 24:9). The proudest title of the prophets, the title which distinguishes them from other men, is that they are the servants and the slaves of God ( Amos 3:7; Jeremiah 7:25). When Paul calls himself the slave of Jesus Christ he is doing nothing less than setting himself in the succession of the prophets. Their greatness and their glory lay in the fact that they were slaves of God, and so did Paul's. Song of Solomon , then, this phrase, the slave of Jesus Christ, describes at one and the same time the obligation of a great love and honor of a great office."

McGuiggan ( Romans , p58) said Paul "wasn't a slave to booze, lust, money, sin, [work, recreation, education, drugs, sports, BP] or the Devil. He was a servant of the King of kings, Jesus Christ." Willmington (p221) offered a similar thought. He noted how Paul was not "a servant of the U.N, or the W.C.C. or any other human organization, but of Christ!"

Paul told the Romans he had become an apostle through God's "calling." Paul's calling came from God ( Acts 9:15; Galatians 1:1). God had "separated" him "unto the gospel." This separation was a separation to something. It was unlike the separation practiced by the Pharisees. They sought to separate themselves from things (the title Pharisee meant "separated one"). The Pharisees refused to let the skirt of their robe brush against an ordinary man. They shuddered at the thought of God offering salvation to the Gentiles. To the Pharisees, Gentiles were fuel for the fires of hell (adopted from Barclay, Romans , page3). The Jews also said, "the best of the serpents crush, the best of the Gentiles kill."

At a former time Paul had embraced these very views. He had been a Pharisee and would have practiced separation. After his conversion to Christ, his outlook changed. He became an apostle to the Gentiles and dedicated his life to preaching and teaching the gospel. "Life to Paul was commitment (a servant), commission (an apostle), and consecration (called, separated)" (CBL, Romans , p19).

Paul had a main goal and he fervently pursued it. He was unlike the people who drift through life, doing a little of this and a little of that, unsure of what they ultimately want to achieve. There are Christians and non-Christians who come to the end of their lives but have no real accomplishments. This type of end is neither good nor desirable. We should have accomplishments, and among them should be a life that is filled with an eager and proud presentation of the gospel (verses15-16).

Concerning the gospel, Cranfield ( Romans , p3) said, "there is also an interesting pagan background to the New Testament use of this word euangelion [a word usually translated gospel, BP]. For the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, it had special associations with the Emperor-cult, the announcements of such events as the birth of an heir to the Emperor, his coming-of-age, and his ascension, being referred to as euangelia. There is thus in the Christian use of the word an implicit contrast between the evangel which may truly be called ‘God's evangel' and these other evangels which represent the pretentious claims of self-important men."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Price, Brad "Commentary on Romans 1:1". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans".

To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology