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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 1:4



who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Adam Clarke Commentary

And declared to be the Son of God - See the note on Acts 13:33, where this subject is considered at large. The word ορισθεντος, which we render declared, comes from οριζω, to bound, define, determine, or limit, and hence our word horizon, the line that determines the farthest visible part of the earth, in reference to the heavens. In this place the word signifies such a manifest and complete exhibition of the subject as to render it indubitable. The resurrection of Christ from the dead was such a manifest proof of our Lord's innocence, the truth of his doctrine, and the fulfillment of all that the prophets had spoken, as to leave no doubt on any considerate and candid mind.

With power - εν δυναμει, With a miraculous display of Divine energy; for, how could his body be raised again, but by the miraculous energy of God? Some apply the word here to the proof of Christ's sonship; as if it were said that he was most manifestly declared to be the Son of God, with such powerful evidence and argument as to render the truth irresistible.

According to the spirit of holiness - There are many differences of sentiment relative to the meaning of this phrase in this place; some supposing that the spirit of holiness implies the Divine nature of Jesus Christ; others, his immaculate sanctity, etc. To me it seems that the apostle simply means that the person called Jesus, lately crucified at Jerusalem, and in whose name salvation was preached to the world, was the Son of God, the very Messiah promised before in the holy Scriptures; and that he was this Messiah was amply demonstrated.

    1st, By his resurrection from the dead, the irrefragable proof of his purity, innocence, and the Divine approbation; for, had he been a malefactor, as the Jews pretended, the miraculous power of God would not have been exerted in raising his body from the dead.

2nd, He was proved to be the Son of God, the promised Messiah, by the Holy Spirit, (called here the spirit of holiness), which he sent down upon his apostles, and not on them only, but on all that believed on his name; by whose influence multitudes were convinced of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and multitudes sanctified unto God; and it was by the peculiar unction of this spirit of holiness, that the apostles gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, Acts 4:33.

Thus, then, Christ was proved to be the true Messiah, the son of David according to the flesh, having the sole right to the throne of Israel; and God recognized this character, and this right, by his resurrection from the dead, and sending forth the various gifts and graces of the Spirit of holiness in his name.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And declared - In the margin, “determined.” Τοῦ ὁρισθέντος Tou horisthentosThe ancient Syriac has, “And he was known to be the Son of God by might and by the Holy Spirit, who rose from the house of the dead.” The Latin Vulgate, “Who was “predestinated” the Son of God,” etc. The Arabic, “The Son of God destined by power special to the Holy Spirit,” etc. The word translated “declared to be” means properly “to bound, to fix limits to,” as to a field, to determine its proper limits or boundaries, to “define,” etc. Acts 17:26, “and hath determined the bounds of their habitation.” Hence, it means to determine, constitute; ordain, decree; i, e. to fix or designate the proper boundaries of a truth, or a doctrine; to distinguish its lines and marks from error; or to show, or declare a thing to be so by any action. Luke 22:22, “the Son of man goeth as it was determined, as it was fixed; purposed, defined, in the purpose of God, and declared in the prophets. Acts 2:23, “him being delivered by the determinate counsel, the definite. constituted will, or design, of God. Acts 11:29; Hebrews 4:7, “he limiteth a certain day,” fixes it, defines it. In this sense it is clearly used in this place. The act of raising him from the dead designated him, or constituted him the Son of God. It was such an act as in the circumstances of the case showed that he was the Son of God in regard to a nature which was not “according to the flesh.” The ordinary resurrection of a man, like that of Lazarus, would not show that he was the Son of God; but in the circumstances of Jesus Christ it did; for he had claimed to be so; he had taught it; and God now attested the truth of his teaching by raising him from the dead.

The Son of God - The word “son” is used in a great variety of senses, denoting literally a son, then a descendant, posterity near or remote, a disciple or ward, an adopted son, or one that imitates or resembles another; see the note at Matthew 1:1. The expression “sons of God,” or “son of God,” is used in an almost equal latitude of signification. It is:

(1) Applied to Adam, as being immediately created by God without an earthly father; Luke 3:38.

(2) it is applied to saints or Christians, as being adopted into his family, and sustaining to him the relation of children; John 1:12-13; 1 John 3:1-2, etc. This name is given to them because they resemble him in their moral character; Matthew 5:45.

(3) it is given to strong men as resembling God in strength; Genesis 6:2, “The sons of God saw the daughters of men,” etc. Here these men of violence and strength are called sons of God, just as the high hills are called hills of God, the lofty trees of Lebanon are called cedars of God, etc.

(4) kings are sometimes called his sons, as resembling him in dominion and power, Psalm 82:6.

(5) the name is given to angels because they resemble God; because he is their Creator and Father, etc., Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Daniel 3:25.

But the name the “Son of God” is in the New Testament given by way of eminence to the Lord Jesus Christ. This was the common and favorite name by which the apostles designated him. The expression “Son of God” is applied to him no less than 27 times in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and 15 times in the Epistles and the Revelation The expression my Son, and his Son, thy Son, etc. is applied to him in his special relation to God, times almost without number. The other most common appellation which is given to him is “Son of man.” By this name he commonly designated himself. There can be no doubt that that was assumed to denote that he was a man, that he sustained a special relation to man, and that he chose to speak of himself as a man. The first, the most obvious, impression on the use of the name “Son of man” is that he was truly a man, and was used doubtless to guard against the impression that one who manifested so many other qualities, and did so many things like a celestial being, was not truly human being.

The phrase “Son of God” stands in contrast with the title “Son of man,” and as the natural and obvious import of that is that he was a man, so the natural and obvious import of the title “Son of God” is that he was divine; or that he sustained relations to God designated by the name Son of God, corresponding to the relations which he sustained to man designated by the name Son of Man. The natural idea of the phrase, “Son of God,” therefore is, that he sustained a relation to God in his nature which implied more than was human or angelic; which implied equality with God. Accordingly, this idea was naturally suggested to the Jews by his calling God his Father; John 5:18, “But said also that God was his Father, “making himself equal with God.” This idea Jesus immediately proceeded to confirm; see the note at John 5:19-30. The same idea is also suggested in John 10:29-31, John 10:33, John 10:36, “Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest: “because I said I am the Son of God?” There is in these places the fullest proof that the title suggested naturally the idea of equality with God; or the idea of his sustaining a relation to God corresponding to the relation of equality to man suggested by the title Son of man.

This view is still further sustained in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Romans 1:1-2, “God hath spoken unto us by His Son.” He is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, Romans 1:3. He is higher than the angels, and they are required to worship him, Romans 1:4-6. He is called “God,” and his throne is forever and ever, Romans 1:8. He is “the Creator of the heavens and the earth,” and is immutably the same, Romans 1:10-12. Thus, the rank or title of the “Son of God” suggests the ideas and attributes of the Divinity. This idea is sustained throughout the New Testament. See John 14:9, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;” Romans 1:23, “That all men shall honor the Son even as they honor the Father;” Colossians 1:19, “It hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” Colossians 2:9, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily:” Philemon 2:2-11; Revelation 5:13-14; Revelation 2:23. It is not affirmed that this title was given to the second person of the Trinity before he became incarnate; or to suggest the idea of any derivation or extraction before he was made flesh. There is no instance in which the appellation is not conferred to express his relation after he assumed human flesh. Of any derivation from God, or emanation from him in eternity, the Scriptures are silent. The title is conferred on him, it is supposed, with reference to his condition in this world, as the Messiah. And it is conferred, it is believed, for the following reasons, or to denote the following things, namely.

(1) to designate his unique relation to God, as equal with him, John 1:14, John 1:18; Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; Luke 3:22; 2 Peter 1:17, or as sustaining a most intimate and close connection with him, such as neither man nor angels could do, an acquaintance with his nature Matthew 11:27, plans, and counsels, such as no being but one who was equal with God could possess. In this sense, I regard it as conferred on him in the passage under consideration.

(2) it designates him as the anointed king, or the Messiah. In this sense it accords with the use of the word in Psalm 82:6. See Matthew 16:16, “Thou art “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 26:63, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether “thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Mark 14:61; Luke 22:70; John 1:34; Acts 9:20, “he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”

(3) it was conferred on him to denote his miraculous conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Luke 1:35, “the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, therefore διό dioalso that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the “Son of God.”

(It is readily admitted, that on the subject of the “eternal Sonship” very much has been said of an unintelligible kind. Terms applicable only to the relation as it exists among people have been freely applied to this mystery. But whatever may be thought of such language as “the eternal generation,” “the eternal procession,” and “the subordination” of the Son; the doctrine itself, which this mode of speaking was invented to illustrate, and has perhaps served to obscure, is in no way affected. The question is not, Have the friends of the doctrine at all times employed judicious illustration? but, What is the “Scripture evidence” on the point? If the eternal Sonship is to be discarded on such grounds, we fear the doctrine of the Trinity must share a similar fate. Yet, those who maintain the divinity of Christ, and notwithstanding deny the eternal Sonship, seem generally to found their objections on these incomprehensible illustrations, and from thence leap to the conclusion that the doctrine itself is false.

That the title Son of God, when applied to Jesus, denotes a natural and not merely an official Sonship, a real and not a figurative relation; in other words, that it takes origin from the divine nature, is the view which the Catholic Church has all along maintained on this subject: no explanation which falls short of divinity will exhaust the meaning of the title. Christ is indeed called the Son of God on account of his miraculous conception; “That holy thing,” said the angel to the Virgin, “which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of the Highest.” But the creation of Adam, by the immediate power of God, without father or mother, would constitute him the Son of God, in a sense equally or even more exalted than that in which the title is applied to Jesus, if the miraculous conception were allowed to exhaust its meaning. Nor will an appeal to the resurrection of Christ serve the purpose of those who deny the divine origin of the title, since that is assigned as the evidence only, and not the ground of it.

The Redeemer was not constituted, but declared or evidenced to be, “the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.” In the search for a solution short of divine Sonship, recourse is next had to the office of Christ as Mediator. Yet though the appellation in question be frequently given in connection with the official character of Jesus, a careful examination of some of these passages will lead to the conclusion, that “though the Son of God hold the office, yet the office does not furnish the reason or ground of the title.” The name is given to distinguish Jesus from all others who have held office, and “in such a way as to convince us that the office is rendered “honorable” by the exalted personage discharging its duties, and not that the person merits the designation in virtue of the office.” “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman,” etc. “God so loved the world that he gave his “only begotten Son,” etc. Now the glory of the mission in the first of these passages, and the greatness of the gift in the second, is founded on the original dignity of the person sent and given. But if the person derive his title from the office only, there would seem to be comparatively little grandeur in the mission, and small favor in the gift. The passages quoted would more readily prove that God had bestowed favor on Jesus, by giving him an office from which he derived so much “personal dignity!”

The following are some of the passages in which the appellation “Son of God” is found connected with the office of Christ. “These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, (an official term signifying “anointed Saviour”), the Son of God;” “He answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ (the official designation) is the Son of God;” “Whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” Now it is reasonable to suppose, that these declarations and confessions concerning the person of Christ, contain not only an acknowledgment of his official character, but also of his personal dignity. “Thou art Jesus the Christ,” is the acknowledgment of his office, and “thou art the Son of God,” is an acknowledgment of his natural dignity. The confession of the Ethiopian eunuch, and of Peter, would be incomplete on any other supposition. It should be borne in mind also, that the question of Christ to Peter was not, What office do ye suppose I hold? but, “Whom say ye that I am?” See Haldane on Romans 1:4.

If, then, the miraculous conception, the resurrection, and the office of Christ, do not all of them together exhaust the meaning of the appellation, we must seek for its origin higher still - we must ascend to the divine nature. We may indeed take one step more upward before we reach the divine nature, and suppose, with Professor Stuart and others, that the name denotes “the complex person of the Saviour,” as God and man, or in one word, “Mediator.” Comment on Heb. Exe. 2. But this is just the old resolution of it into official character, and is therefore liable to all the objections stated above. For while it is admitted by those who hold this view, that Christ is divine, it is distinctly implied, that the title Son of God would not have been his but for his office.

In the end therefore we must resolve the name into the divine nature. That it implies equality with God is clearly proved in this commentary. So the Jews understood it, and the Saviour tacitly admitted that their construction was right. And as there is no equality with God without divinity, the title clearly points to such a distinction in the Godhead as is implied in the relative terms, Father and Son. Indeed it is not easy to understand how the doctrine of the Trinity can be maintained apart from that of the eternal Sonship. If there be in the Godhead a distinction of persons, does not that distinction belong to the nature of the Godhead, independent of any official relations. Or will it be maintained, that the distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, arises entirely from the scheme of redemption, and did not exist from eternity? We may find fault with Dr Owen, and others, who speak of a “hypostatical subordination of persons in the Godhead.” Prof. Stuart, Com. Heb. Exe. 1. Yet, the distinction itself, through we cannot explain it, “must” be allowed to exist.

The remaining evidence of the eternal Sonship may be thus stated.

1. Christ is called God‘s “own Son,” his “beloved,” and “well beloved,” and “only begotten Son.‘ So strong and special adjuncts seem intended to prevent any such idea as that of figurative Sonship. If these do not express the natural relationship, it is beyond the power of language to do it. Moreover, correct criticism binds us to adopt the natural and ordinary signification of words, unless in such cases as plainly refuse it,

2. In a passage already quoted, God is said “to have sent forth His Son to redeem us,” etc. And there are many passages to the same effect, in which is revealed, not only the pre-existence of Christ, but the capacity in which he originally moved, and the rank which he held in heaven. “God sent forth his Son,” implies that he held that title prior to his mission. This at least is the most obvious sense of the passage, and the sense which an ordinary reader would doubtless affix to it. The following objection, however, has been supposed fatal to this argument: “The name Son of God is indeed used, when speaking of him previous to his having assumed human nature, but so are the names of Jesus and the Christ, which yet we know properly to belong to him, only as united to humanity.” It is readily allowed that the simple fact of the name being given prior to the incarnation proves nothing of itself. But the case is altered when this fact is viewed in connection with the difficulty or impossibility of resolving the Sonship into an official relation. No such difficulty exists in regard to the terms “Jesus” and “Christ,” for they are plainly official names, signifying “anointed Saviour.”

3. Romans 1:3-4. If in this passage we understand the apostle to declare, that Christ was of the seed of David, according to his human nature, the rule of antithesis demands, that we understand him next to assert what he was according to his divine nature, namely, the Son of God.

The views given in this Note are those adopted by the most eminent orthodox divines. The language of the Westminster divines is well known; “The only Redeemer of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ, who being the eternal Son of God, of one substance etc.” “Larger Catechism.” Mr. Scott “is decidedly of opinion, that Christ is called the only Son of God in respect of his divine nature.” Commentary, Hebrews 1:3-4.” The late Principal Hill, in his Theological System, having exposed what he deemed erroneous views on this subject, adds, “there is a more ancient and a more exalted title to this name (Son of God), which is inseparable from the nature” of Christ. “3rd edition, vol. i., page 363.)”

With power - ἐν δυνάμει en dunameiBy some this expression has been supposed to mean in power or authority, after his resurrection from the dead. It is said, that he was before a man of sorrows; now he was clothed with power and authority. But I have seen no instance in which the expression in power denotes office, or authority. It denotes physical energy and might, and this was bestowed on Jesus before his resurrection as well as after; Acts 10:38, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit, and with power; Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 15:43. With such power Jesus will come to judgment: Matthew 24:30. If there is any passage in which the word “power” means authority, office, etc., it is Matthew 28:18, “All power in heaven and earth is given unto me.” But this is not a power which was given unto him after his resurrection, or which he did not possess before. The same authority to commission his disciples he had exercised before this on the same ground, Matthew 10:7-8. I am inclined to believe, therefore, that the expression means “powerfully, efficiently;” he was with great power, or conclusiveness, shown to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. Thus, the phrase “in power” is used to qualify a verb in Colossians 1:29, “Which worketh in me mightily,” “Greek,” in power, that is, operating in me effectually, or powerfully. The ancient versions seem to have understood it in the same way. “Syriac,” “He was known to be the Son of God by power, and by the Holy Spirit.” “AEthiopic,” “Whom he declared to be the Son of God by his own power, and by his Holy Spirit,” etc. “Arabic,” “Designated the Son of God by power appropriate to the Holy Spirit.”

According to the spirit of holiness - κατά πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης kata pneuma hagiōsunēsThis expression has been variously understood. We may arrive at its meaning by the following considerations.

(1) it is not the third person in the Trinity that is referred to here. The designation of that person is always in a different form. It is “the Holy Spirit,” the Holy Ghost, πνεῦμα ἅγιον pneuma hagionor τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον to pneuma to hagionnever “the spirit of holiness.”

(2) it stands in contrast with the flesh; Romans 1:3, “According to the flesh, the seed of David: according to the spirit of holiness, the Son of God.” As the former refers doubtless to his human nature, so this must refer to the nature designated by the title Son of God, that is, to his superior or divine nature.

(3) the expression is altogether unique to the Lord Jesus Christ. No where in the Scriptures, or in any other writings, is there an affirmation like this. What would be meant by it if affirmed of a mere man?

(4) it cannot mean that the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, showed that Jesus was the Son of God by raising him from the dead because that act is no where attributed to him. It is uniformly ascribed either to God, as God Acts 2:24, Acts 2:32; Acts 3:15, Acts 3:26; Acts 4:10; Acts 5:30; Acts 10:40; Acts 13:30, Acts 13:33-34; Acts 17:31; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 1:20, or to the Father Romans 6:4, or to Jesus himself John 10:18. In no instance is this act ascribed to the Holy Spirit.

(5) it indicates a state far more elevate than any human dignity, or honor In regard to his earthly descent, he was of a royal race; in regard to the Spirit of holiness, much more than that, he was the Son of God.

(6) the word “Spirit” is used often to designate God, the holy God, as distinguished from all the material forms of idol worship, John 4:24.

(7) the word “Spirit” is applied to the Messiah, in his more elevated or divine nature. 1 Corinthians 15:45, “the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:17, “now the Lord (Jesus) is that Spirit.” Hebrews 9:14, Christ is said to have offered himself through the eternal Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18, he is said to have been “put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” 1 Timothy 3:16, he is said to have been “justified in the Spirit.” In most of these passages there is the same contrast noticed between his flesh, his human nature, and his other state, which occurs in Romans 1:3-4. In all these instances, the design is, doubtless, to speak of him as a man, and as something more than a man: he was one thing as a man; he was another thing in his other nature. In the one, he was of David; was put to death, etc. In the other, he was of God, he was manifested to be such, he was restored to the elevation which he had sustained before his incarnation and death, John 17:1-5; Philemon 2:2-11. The expression, “according to the Spirit of holiness,” does not indeed of itself imply divinity. It denotes that holy and more exalted nature which he possessed as distinguished from the human. What that is, is to be learned from other declarations. “This expression implies simply that it was such as to make proper the appellation, the Son of God.” Other places, as we have seen, show that that designation naturally implied divinity. And that this was the true idea couched under the expression, according to the Spirit of holiness, appears from those numerous texts of scripture which explicitly assert his divinity; see John 1:1, etc., and the note on that place.

By the resurrection from the dead - This has been also variously understood. Some have maintained that the word “by,” ἐξ exdenotes after. He was declared to be the Son of God in power after he rose from the dead; that is, he was solemnly invested with the dignity that became the Son of God after he had been so long in a state of voluntary humiliation. But to this view there are some insuperable objections.

(1) it is not the natural and usual meaning of the word “by.”

(2) it is not the object of the apostle to state the time when the thing was done, or the order, but evidently to declare the fact, and the evidence of the fact. If such had been his design, he would have said that previous to his death he was shown to be of the seed of David, but afterward that he was invested with power.

(3) though it must be admitted that the preposition “by, ἐξ exsometimes means after (Matthew 19:20; Luke 8:27; xxiii. 8, etc.), yet its proper and usual meaning is to denote the efficient cause, or the agent, or origin of a thing, Matthew 1:3, Matthew 1:18; Matthew 21:25; John 3:5; Romans 5:16; Romans 11:36, “OF him are all things.” 1 Corinthians 8:6, “one God, the Father, of whom are all things,” etc. In this sense, I suppose it is used here; and that the apostle means to affirm that he was clearly or decisively shown to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.

But here will it be asked, how did his resurrection show this? Was not Lazarus raised from the dead? And did not many saints rise also after Jesus? And were not the dead raised by the apostles; by Elijah, by the bones of Elisha, and by Christ himself? And did their being raised prove that they were the sons of God? I answer that the mere fact of the resurrection of the body proves nothing in itself about the character and rank of the being that is raised. But in the circumstances in which Jesus was placed it might show it conclusively. When Lazarus was raised, it was not in attestation of anything which he had taught or done. It was a mere display of the power and benevolence of Christ. But in regard to the resurrection of Jesus, let the following circumstances be taken into the account.

(1) he came as the Messiah.

(2) he uniformly taught that he was the Son of God.

(3) he maintained that God was his Father in such a sense as to imply equality with him, John 5:17-30; John 10:36.

(4) he claimed authority to abolish the laws of the Jews, to change their customs, and to be himself absolved from the observance of those laws, even as his Father was, Mark 2:28.

(5) when God raised him up therefore, it was not an ordinary event. It was “a public attestation, in the face of the universe, of the truth of his claims to be the Son of God.” God would not sanction the doings and doctrines of an impostor. And when, therefore he raised up Jesus, he, by this act, showed the truth of his claims, that he was the Son of God.

Further, in the view of the apostles, the resurrection was intimately connected with the ascension and exaltation of Jesus. The one made the other certain. And it is not improbable that when they spoke of his resurrection, they meant to include, not merely that single act, but the entire series of doings of which that was the first, and which was the pledge of the elevation and majesty of the Son of God. Hence, when they had proved his resurrection, they assumed that all the others would follow. That involved and supposed all. And the series, of which that was the first, proved that he was the Son of God; see Acts 17:31, “He will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all people, “in that he hath raised him from the dead.” The one involves the other; see Acts 1:6. Thus, Peter Acts 2:22-32 having proved that Jesus was raised up, adds, Acts 2:33, “therefore, being by the right hand exalted, he hath shed forth this,” etc.; and Acts 2:36, “therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

This verse is a remarkable instance of the “apostle” Paul‘s manner of writing. Having mentioned a subject, his mind seems to catch fire; he presents it in new forms, and amplifies it, until he seems to forget for a time the subject on which he was writing. It is from this cause that his writings abound so with parentheses, and that there is so much difficulty in following and understanding him.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord.

This verse is the antithesis of the preceding verse, that dealing with the human nature of Christ, and this with his heavenly nature.

Declared to be the Son of God with power ... The key words in this passage are "with power." It is not affirmed that Christ was declared the Son of God, merely, but that he was declared so with power. As Greathouse expressed it:

Paul does not say that Jesus was appointed Son of God but that he was appointed Son of God with power. Nygren brings all these ideas into focus: "To be sure, from the beginning, he was the Son of God, but in weakness and lowliness. The divine glory which formerly was hidden was manifest after the resurrection. From that hour, he is the Son of God in a new sense: he is the Son of God in power."[6]

According to the spirit of holiness ... By capitalizing "Spirit of holiness," the RSV identifies the Spirit mentioned here as the Holy Spirit; and, although Paul nowhere else uses this designation of the Holy Spirit, there seems to be no good reason for denying that he did so here. Certainly, it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that the gospel was proclaimed, including the good news of the resurrection, which is an essential part of it.

By the resurrection from the dead ... should be translated "by the resurrection of the dead," the change to "from" having been made by the translators for the purpose of giving a more accurate presentation of what they considered to be the meaning, most of them thinking that the resurrection of Christ was referred to; but the alternative translation in the English Revised Version (1885) margin is undoubtedly correct. This difficult passage was translated "after the resurrection from the dead" by Luther, Erasmus, and others.[7] Barrett translates it "after his resurrection from the dead."[8] Greathouse, however, protested such translations, writing:

Literally the phrase means "resurrection of those who are dead." Paul says actually that Christ was designated the Son of God with power "by a resurrection of dead ones." Nygren understands Paul to mean: "Through Christ the resurrection age has burst upon us."[9]

Whosoever believes that Christ is the Son of God has passed from death unto life (John 5:24), and thus the expression "resurrection of the dead" is the reference to the power of the gospel to awaken into new life them that were formerly dead in trespasses and sins. Thin does not exclude the resurrection of Christ, but goes beyond it to make the world-shaking power of the gospel to be included also as part of the declarative power demonstrating and advertising Christ as Son of God with power.

Any further pursuit of the meaning of this difficult phrase would only multiply supporting reasons for various positions of scholars; and we shall, accordingly, construe the place as ambiguous, perhaps designed that way by the Holy Spirit, and content ourselves with a few certainties: (1) Christ was Son of God long before his resurrection, and was so confessed by the apostles. (2) Any declaration of Christ, and appointment of him to be the Son of God with power, by means of any such thing as the resurrection, would of necessity apply to some more powerful phase of his Sonship, rather than marking the absolute initiation of it. (3) The resurrection here mentioned, whatever was intended, is indeed one of the centers of the Christian faith. The resurrection of Christ, particularly, is the cornerstone and foundation of the Christian religion. It is the resurrection of Christ that gives credibility to the Gospels, explains the virgin birth, thrills the heart with the conviction that Jesus Christ is indeed God come in the flesh; and, without the hope of the resurrection, Paul himself declared that, "We are of all men most pitiable" (1 Corinthians 15:19). With the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, as set forth in the New Testament, the Christian is endowed with sufficient strength to meet all of life's challenges. It is surely true, as Paul said in another place, that "Christ brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10).

Even Jesus Christ our Lord ... There can be no doubt that Paul accepted Christ as far more than a mere human being. This salutation, had there been nothing else, would make that certain. Paul presents himself as the bondslave of Jesus Christ in the very first line of the epistle, and it is impossible to think of Paul's subjection to any person of mere mortal dignity. Here, Jesus Christ is adored as Lord.

[6] William M. Greathouse, Commentary on Romans (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1968), p. 31.

[7] Charles Hodge, op. cit., p. 20.

[8] C. K. Barrett, op. cit., p. 20.

[9] Wm. M. Greathouse, op. cit., p. 31.

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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "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

And declared to be the Son of God,.... Not made as he is said to be before, when his incarnation is spoken of; nor did he begin to be the Son of God, when he was made of the seed of David, but he, the Son of God, who existed as such, from everlasting, was manifested in the flesh, or human nature: and this his divine sonship, and proper deity, are declared and made evident,

with, or "by"

his power; which has appeared in the creation of all things out of nothing; in upholding all things in their beings; in the government of the world, and works of Providence; in the miracles he wrought; in his performing the great work of redemption; in the success of his Gospel, to the conversion of sinners; and in the preservation of his churches and people: here it seems chiefly to regard the power of Christ in raising the dead, since it follows, and which is to be connected with this clause,

by the resurrection from the dead; and designs either the resurrection of others, as of Lazarus, and some other persons, in his lifetime, and of some at his resurrection, and of all at the last day: or the resurrection of his own body, which dying he had power to raise up again, and did; and which declared him to be, or clearly made it appear that he was the Son of God, a divine person, truly and properly God: and this was done

according to the Spirit of holiness; which may be understood of the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, who is holy in himself, and the author of holiness in the saints; and who is the declarer of Christ's sonship, partly by bearing a testimony to it in the word, and in the hearts of believers, and chiefly by being concerned in the resurrection of the body of Christ from the dead; or else by the Spirit of holiness may be meant the divine nature of Christ, which, as it is holy, so by it Christ offered himself to God, and by it was quickened, or made alive, when he had been put to death in the flesh; and which must be a clear and strong proof of his being truly the Son of God.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And g declared [to be] the Son of God with h power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

(g) Shown and made manifest.

(h) The divine and mighty power is set against the weakness of the flesh, for it overcame death.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

And declared — literally, “marked off,” “defined,” “determined,” that is, “shown,” or “proved.”

to be the Son of God — Observe how studiously the language changes here. He “was MADE [says the apostle] of the seed of David, according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3); but He was not made, He was only “declared [or proved] to BE the Son of God.” So John 1:1, John 1:14, “In the beginning WAS the Word … and the Word was MADE flesh”; and Isaiah 9:6, “Unto us a Child is BORN, unto us a Son is GIVEN.” Thus the Sonship of Christ is in no proper sense a born relationship to the Father, as some, otherwise sound divines, conceive of it. By His birth in the flesh, that Sonship, which was essential and uncreated, merely effloresced into palpable manifestation. (See on Luke 1:35; see Acts 13:32, Acts 13:33).

with power — This may either be connected with “declared,” and then the meaning will be “powerfully declared” [Luther, Beza, Bengel, Fritzsche, Alford, etc.]; or (as in our version, and as we think rightly) with “the Son of God,” and then the sense is, “declared to be the Son of God” in possession of that “power” which belonged to Him as the only-begotten of the Father, no longer shrouded as in the days of His flesh, but “by His resurrection from the dead” gloriously displayed and henceforth to be for ever exerted in this nature of ours [Vulgate, Calvin, Hodge, Philippi, Mehring, etc.].

according to the spirit of holiness — If “according to the flesh” means here, “in His human nature,” this uncommon expression must mean “in His other nature,” which we have seen to be that “of the Son of God” - an eternal, uncreated nature. This is here styled the “spirit,” as an impalpable and immaterial nature (John 4:24), and “the spirit of holiness,” probably in absolute contrast with that “likeness, of sinful flesh” which He assumed. One is apt to wonder that if this be the meaning, it was not expressed more simply. But if the apostle had said “He was declared to be the Son of God according to the Holy Spirit,” the reader would have thought he meant “the Holy Ghost”; and it seems to have been just to avoid this misapprehension that he used the rare expression, “the spirit of holiness.”

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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 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Who was declared (του οριστεντοςtou horisthentos). Articular participle (first aorist passive) of οριζωhorizō for which verb see note on Luke 22:22 and note on Acts 2:23. He was the Son of God in his preincarnate state (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philemon 2:6) and still so after his Incarnation (Romans 1:3, “of the seed of David”), but it was the Resurrection of the dead (εχ αναστασεως νεκρωνex anastaseōs nekrōn the general resurrection implied by that of Christ) that definitely marked Jesus off as God‘s Son because of his claims about himself as God‘s Son and his prophecy that he would rise on the third day. This event (cf. 1 Corinthians 15) gave God‘s seal “with power” (εν δυναμειen dunamei), “in power,” declared so in power (2 Corinthians 13:4). The Resurrection of Christ is the miracle of miracles. “The resurrection only declared him to be what he truly was” (Denney).

According to the spirit of holiness (κατα πνευμα αγιωσυνηςkata pneuma hagiōsunēs). Not the Holy Spirit, but a description of Christ ethically as κατα σαρκαkata sarka describes him physically (Denney). αγιωσυνηHagiōsunē is rare (1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 7:1 in N.T.), three times in lxx, each time as the attribute of God. “The πνευμα αγιωσυνηςpneuma hagiōsunēs though not the Divine nature, is that in which the Divinity or Divine Personality Resided” (Sanday and Headlam).

Jesus Christ our Lord (Ιησου Χριστου του κυριου ημωνIēsou Christou tou kuriou hēmōn). These words gather up the total personality of Jesus (his deity and his humanity).

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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Declared ( ὁρισθέντος )

Rev., in margin, determined. The same verb as in the compound separated in Romans 1:1. Bengel says that it expresses more than “separated,” since one of a number is separated, but only one is defined or declared. Compare Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31. It means to designate one for something, to nominate, to instate. There is an antithesis between born (Romans 1:3) and declared. As respected Christ's earthly descent, He was born like other men. As respected His divine essence, He was declared. The idea is that of Christ's instatement or establishment in the rank and dignity of His divine sonship with a view to the conviction of men. This was required by His previous humiliation, and was accomplished by His resurrection, which not only manifested or demonstrated what He was, but wrought a real transformation in His mode of being. Compare Acts 2:36; “God made,” etc.

With power ( ἐν δυνάμει )

Lit., in power. Construe with was declared. He was declared or instated mightily; in a striking, triumphant manner, through His resurrection.

Spirit of holiness

In contrast with according to the flesh. The reference is not to the Holy Spirit, who is nowhere designated by this phrase, but to the spirit of Christ as the seat of the divine nature belonging to His person. As God is spirit, the divine nature of Christ is spirit, and its characteristic quality is holiness.

Resurrection from the dead ( ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν )

Wrong, since this would require the preposition ἐκ fromRev., correctly, of the dead. Though this resurrection is here represented as actually realized in one individual only, the phrase, as everywhere in the New Testament, signifies the resurrection of the dead absolutely and generically - of all the dead, as exemplified, included, and involved in the resurrection of Christ. See on Philemon 3:11.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

But powerfully declared to be the Son of God, according to the Spirit of Holiness — That is, according to his divine nature.

By the resurrection from the dead — For this is both the fountain and the object of our faith; and the preaching of the apostles was the consequence of Christ's resurrection.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

According to the Spirit of holiness. A great degree of uncertainty has been felt among commentators in respect to the precise import of the term Spirit of holiness, as used in this connection; and, in fact, also in respect to the other clauses of this verse. Some consider this expression as referring to the Holy Spirit, others to the divine Word which became flesh in the person of Jesus. (John 1:1,14.) Others still understand it to denote those spiritual influences affused by the Savior, after his resurrection, upon the apostles, and other members of the early church. In fact, in regard to the whole verse, the best authorities among commentators express their opinions of the specific sense in which its several clauses are to be understood with great hesitation. Its general import is clear, viz., that Jesus, who, in respect to his human powers and station, was a descendant of David, was proclaimed the Son of God by divine indications of the highest and most unquestionable character.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.Declared (19) the Son of God, etc.: or, if you prefer, determined (definitus); as though he had said, that the power, by which he was raised from the dead, was something like a decree by which he was proclaimed the Son of God, according to what is said in Psalms 2:7, “I have this day begotten thee:” for this begetting refers to what was made known. Though some indeed find here three separate evidences of the divinity of Christ — “power,” understanding thereby miracles — then the testimony of the Spirit — and, lastly, the resurrection from the dead — I yet prefer to connect them together, and to reduce these three things to one, in this manner — that Christ was declared the Son of God by openly exercising a real celestial power, that is, the power of the Spirit, when he rose from the dead; but that this power is comprehended, when a conviction of it is imprinted on our hearts by the same Spirit. The language of the Apostle well agrees with this view; for he says that he was declared by power, because power, peculiar to God, shone forth in him, and uncontestably proved him to be God; and this was indeed made evident by his resurrection. Paul says the same thing in another place; having stated, that by death the weakness of the flesh appeared, he at the same time extols the power of the Spirit in his resurrection; (2 Corinthians 13:4) This glory, however, is not made known to us, until the same Spirit imprints a conviction of it on our hearts. And that Paul includes, together with the wonderful energy of the Spirit, which Christ manifested by rising from the dead, the testimony which all the faithful feel in their hearts, is even evident from this — that he expressly calls it the Spirit of Holiness; as though he had said, that the Spirit, as far as it sanctifies, confirms and ratifies that evidence of its power which it once exhibited. For the Scripture is wont often to ascribe such titles to the Spirit, as tend to illustrate our present subject. Thus He is called by our Lord the Spirit of Truth, on account of the effect which he mentions; (John 14:17)

Besides, a divine power is said to have shone forth in the resurrection of Christ for this reason — because he rose by his own power, as he had often testified:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days
I will raise it up again,” (
John 2:19;)

“No man taketh it from me,” etc.; (John 10:18)

For he gained victory over death, (to which he yielded with regard to the weakness of the flesh,) not by aid sought from another, but by the celestial operation of his own Spirit.

Professor [Hodge ] gives what he conceives to be the import of the two verses in these words, “Jesus Christ was, as to his human nature, the Son of David; but he was clearly demonstrated to be, as to his divine nature, the Son of God, by the resurrection from the dead.” This view is taken by many, such as [Pareus ], [Beza ], [Turrettin ], etc. But the words, “according to the Spirit of Holiness ” — κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, are taken differently by others, as meaning the Holy Spirit. As the phrase is nowhere else found, it may be taken in either sense. That the divine nature of Christ is called Spirit, is evident. See 1 Corinthians 15:45; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 3:18 [Doddridge ], [Scott ], and [Chalmers ], consider The Holy Spirit to be intended. The last gives this paraphrase: — “Declared, or determinately marked out to be the Son of God and with power. The thing was demonstrated by an evidence, the exhibition of which required a putting forth of power, which Paul in another place represents as a very great and strenuous exertion, ‘According to the working of his mighty power when he raised him from the dead.’ — The Spirit of Holiness, or the Holy Spirit. It was through the operation of the Holy Spirit that the divine nature was infused into the human at the birth of Jesus Christ; and the very same agent, it is remarkable, was employed in the work of the resurrection. ‘Put to death in the flesh,’ says Peter, and ‘quickened by the Spirit.’ We have only to do with the facts of the case. He was demonstrated to be the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit having been put forth in raising him from the dead.” As to the genitive case after “resurrection,” see a similar instance in Acts 17:32

The idea deduced by [Calvin ], that he is called here “the Spirit of Holiness,” on account of the holiness he works in us, seems not well-founded, though advanced by [Theodoret ] and [Augustine ]. — Ed.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Ver. 4. Declared to be, &c.] Gr. ορισθεντος, defined; for definitions explain obscurities.

With power] For, Superas evadere ad auras, Hic labor, hoc opus est -a work befitting a God. See Ephesians 1:20. {See Trapp on "Ephesians 1:20"}

The Spirit of holiness] The divine essence of Christ, 2 Corinthians 13:4, which sanctifieth the human nature assumed by him.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Romans 1:4. With power See on Romans 1:16. He who will read in the original what St. Paul says, Ephesians 1:19-20 concerning the power which God exerted in raisingChrist from the dead, will hardly avoid thinking that he there sees St. Paul labouring for words to express the greatness of it. The word declared does not exactly answer the original, nor is it perhaps easy to find a word in English which perfectly answers to the Greek word ορισθεντος, in the sense the Apostle uses it here. The original word 'Οριζειν signifies properly to bound, terminate, or circumscribe; by which termination the figure of things sensible is made,—and they are known to be of this or that species, and so distinguished from others. Thus St. Paul takes Christ's resurrection from the dead and entering into immortality to be the most eminent and characteristical mark whereby Christ is certainly known, and as it were determined, to be the Son of God; and undoubtedly his resurrection amply rolled away all the reproach of his cross, and intitled him to the honour of the first-born among many brethren. The phrase according to the Spirit of holiness, says Mr. Locke, is here manifestly opposed to according to the flesh in the foregoing verse, and so must mean his divine nature; unless this be understood, the antithesis is lost. Dr. Doddridge, however, and others think, that it appears little agreeable to the style of Scripture in general, to call the divine nature of Christ the Spirit of holiness, and therefore they rather refer it to the operation of the Spirit of God, in the production of Christ's body; by which means the opposition between the flesh and the Spirit will be preserved, the one referring to the materials acted upon, the other to the divine and miraculous agent. Compare Luke 1:35. The sense of the verse maybe expressed thus: "But determinately and in the most convincing manner marked out to be the Son of God, as to that spiritual part in him, which remained perfectly holy and spotless under all temptations, by his being raised from the dead to universal dominion."

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Romans 1:4. τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ, who was definitively marked as [declared to be, Engl. Vers.] the Son of God) He uses τοῦ again, not καὶ or δὲ. When the article is repeated, it forms an epitasis. [end.] In many passages, where both natures of the Saviour are mentioned, the human nature is put first, because the divine was most distinctly proved to all, only after His resurrection from the dead. [Hence it is, that it is frequently repeated, He, and not any other. Acts 9:20; Acts 9:22, etc.—V. g.] The participle ὁρισθέντος expresses much more than ἀφωρισμένος in Romans 1:1; for one, ἀφορίζεται, out of a number of other persons, but a person, ὁρίζεται, as the one and only person, Acts 10:42. In that well-known passage, Psalms 2:7, חק [the decree] is the same as ὁρισμὸς; [the decree implying] that the Father has most determinately said, Thou art My Son. The ἀπόδειξις, the approving of the Son, in regard to men, follows in the train of this ὁρισμόν.—Acts 2:22. Paul particularly extols the glory of the Son of God, when writing to those to whom he had been unable to preach it face to face. Comp. Hebrews 10:8, etc., note.— ἐν δυνάμει, in (or with) power), most powerfully, most fully; as when the sun shines in δυνάμει, in his strength.—Revelation 1:16.— κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, according to the spirit of holiness) The word קדוש ἃγιος, holy, when the subject under discussion refers to God, not only denotes that blameless rectitude in acting, which distinguishes Him, but the Godhead itself, or, to speak with greater propriety, the divinity, or the excellence of the Divine nature. Hence ἁγιωσύνη has a kind of middle sense between ἁγιότητα and ἁγιασμόν.—Comp. Hebrews 12:10; Hebrews 12:14. [“His holiness,” ἁγιότης; “without ἁγιασμός sanctification, no man shall see the Lord.”] So that there are, as it were, three degrees, sanctification (sanctificatio), sanctity (or sanctimony, “sanctimonia,”) holiness (sanctitas) Holiness itself (sanctitas) is ascribed to God the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. And since the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in this passage, but the Spirit of holiness (sanctity, sanctimoniæ), we must inquire farther, what that expression, which is evidently a singular one, denotes. The name Spirit is expressly, and that too, very often, given to the Holy Spirit; but God is also said to be a Spirit; and the Lord, Jesus Christ, is called Spirit, in antithesis indeed to the letter, 2 Corinthians 3:17. But in the strict sense, it is of use to compare with the idea here the fact, that the antithesis flesh and spirit occurs, as in this passage, so rather frequently, in passages speaking of Christ, 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18. And in these passages that is called Spirit, whatever belongs to Christ, independently of the flesh [assumed through His descent from David, Luke 1:35.—V. g.], although that flesh was pure and holy; also whatever superior to flesh belongs to Him, owing to His generation by the Father, who has sanctified Him, John 10:36; in short, the Godhead itself. For, as in this passage, flesh and spirit, so at chap. Romans 9:5, flesh and Godhead stand in contradistinction to each other. This spirit is not called the spirit of holiness (sanctitatis ἁγιότητος), which is the peculiar and solemn appellation of the Holy Spirit, with whom, however, Jesus was most abundantly filled and anointed, Luke 1:35; Luke 4:1; Luke 4:18; John 3:34; Acts 10:38; but in this one passage alone, the expression used is the spirit of sanctity (sanctimoniæ ἁγιωσύνης), in order that there may be at once implied the efficacy of that holiness (sanctitatis ἁγιότητος) or divinity, of which the resurrection of the Saviour was both a necessary consequence, and which it most powerfully illustrates; and so, that spiritual and holy, or divine power of Jesus Christ glorified, who, however, has still retained the spiritual body. Before the resurrection, the Spirit was concealed under the flesh; after the resurrection the Spirit of sanctity [sanctimoniæ] entirely concealed the flesh, although He did not lay aside the flesh; but all that is carnal (which was also without sin), Luke 24:39. In respect of the former [His state before the resurrection], He once used frequently to call Himself the Son of Man; in respect of the latter [His state after the resurrection; and the spirit of sanctity, by which He rose again], He is celebrated as the Son of God. His [manifested or] conspicuous state [as presented to men’s view before His resurrection] was modified in various ways. At the day of judgment, His glory as the Son of God shall appear, as also His body in the highest degree glorified. See also John 6:63, note.— ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, by means of the resurrection of the dead) ἐκ not only denotes time, but the connection of things (for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is at once the source and the object of our faith, Acts 17:31). The verb ἀνίστημι is also used without a preposition, as in Herodotus, ἀναστάντες τῶν βαθρῶν: therefore, ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν might be taken in this passage for the resurrection from the dead. But it is in reality taken in a more pregnant sense; for it is intimated, that the resurrection of all is intimately connected with the resurrection of Christ. Comp. Acts 4:2; Acts 23:6; Acts 26:23. Artemonius conjectures that the reading should be ἐξ ἀναστάσεως ἐκ νεκρῶν Part I., cap. 41, p. 214, etc., and this is his construction of the passage: περὶ [Romans 1:3] ἐξαναστάσεως ἐκ νεκρῶν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ κ. τ. λ. concerning the resurrection of His Son from the dead, etc. But, I. There is a manifest Apposition, concerning His Son, Jesus Christ; therefore, the words, which come between parenthetically, are all construed in an unbroken connection with one another. II. There is an obvious antithesis: του γενομένου εκ κατα: του ὁρισθέντοςκαταεξ.—III. ἀνάστασις, not ἐξανάστασις, if we are to have regard to Paul’s style, is properly applied to Christ; but ἐξαανάστασις to Christians; Comp. ἤγειρε, ἐξεγερεῖ, 1 Corinthians 6:14. Artemonius objects that Christ was even previously the Son of God, Luke 3:22; John 10:36; Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38. We answer, Paul does not infer the Sonship itself, but the ὁρισμὸν, the [declaration] definitive marking of the Sonship by the resurrection. And in support of this point, Chrysostom compares with this the following passages: John 2:19; John 8:28; Matthew 12:39; and the preaching of the apostles follows close upon this ὁρισμόν, Luke 24:47. Therefore, this mode of mentioning the resurrection is exceedingly well adapted to this introduction, as Galatians 1:1.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Not made the Son of God, as he was said before to be made of the seed of David; but

declared, or demonstrated, to be the Son of God.

With power: this refers either to the word declared, and then the meaning is, he was powerfully or miraculously declared to be the Son of God; the Greek word ordinarily signifies a miracle in the New Testament: or else it refers to the last words, the Son of God; and then the sense is, he was declared to be the powerful and omnipotent Son of God, of the same power and majesty with the Father.

By the spirit of holiness, some would understand the Third Person in the blessed Trinity, which is often called the Holy Spirit, and here the Spirit of holiness; but others, and they more rightly, do understand the Deity and Divine nature of Christ; this is called the Spirit, 1 Timothy 3:16 1 Peter 3:18; and the eternal Spirit, Hebrews 9:14 and here it is called the Spirit of holiness, or the most Holy Spirit, and that, probably, because of its effects; for thereby he sanctified his natural body, and still sanctifies his mystical body, the church. That this is the meaning is evident, by the opposition between the flesh and the Spirit: as according to the flesh, in the former verse, did signify his human nature; so according to the Spirit, in this verse, doth signify his Divine nature. See the like antithesis in 1 Timothy 3:16 1 Peter 3:18.

By the resurrection from the dead: because it is said, the resurrection of the dead, not from the dead, some would understand the words of Lazarus, and others, who by the power of Christ were raised from the dead; and others would understand the words of those who were raised with Christ, when he himself arose: see Matthew 27:52,53. But in Scripture the resurrection of the dead, is put for the resurrection from the dead; see 1 Corinthians 15:42 Hebrews 6:2; and hereby is meant the resurrection of Christ himself: he rose again from the dead, and thereby declared or manifested himself to be the Son of God with power: see John 2:19,21 5:26 10:18 1 Corinthians 15:4. And though it be said in Scripture, that the Father raised him from the dead, Acts 2:24 13:30,33; yet that doth not hinder but by his own power he raised himself; seeing the Father and he were one, and the works of the Three Persons in one and the same Essence are undivided.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 1:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture



Romans 1:4.

It is a great mistake to treat Paul’s writings, and especially this Epistle, as mere theology. They are the transcript of his life’s experience. As has been well said, the gospel of Paul is an interpretation of the significance of the life and work of Jesus based upon the revelation to him of Jesus as the risen Christ. He believed that he had seen Jesus on the road to Damascus, and it was that appearance which revolutionised his life, turned him from a persecutor into a disciple, and united him with the Apostles as ordained to be a witness with them of the Resurrection. To them all the Resurrection of Jesus was first of all a historical fact appreciated chiefly in its bearing on Him. By degrees they discerned that so transcendent a fact bore in itself a revelation of what would become the experience of all His followers beyond the grave, and a symbol of the present life possible for them. All three of these aspects are plainly declared in Paul’s writings. In our text it is chiefly the first which is made prominent. All that distinguishes Christianity; and makes it worth believing, or mighty, is inseparably connected with the Resurrection.

I. The Resurrection of Christ declares His Sonship.

Resurrection and Ascension are inseparably connected. Jesus does not rise to share again in the ills and weariness of humanity. Risen, ‘He dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.’ ‘He died unto sin once’; and His risen humanity had nothing in it on which physical death could lay hold. That He should from some secluded dimple on Olivet ascend before the gazing disciples until the bright cloud, which was the symbol of the Divine Presence, received Him out of their sight, was but the end of the process which began unseen in morning twilight. He laid aside the garments of the grave and passed out of the sepulchre which was made sure by the great stone rolled against its mouth. The grand avowal of faith in His Resurrection loses meaning, unless it is completed as Paul completed his ‘yea rather that was raised from the dead,’ with the triumphant ‘who is at the right hand of God.’ Both are supernatural, and the Virgin Birth corresponds at the beginning to the supernatural Resurrection and Ascension at the close. Both such an entrance into the world and such a departure from it, proclaim at once His true humanity, and that ‘this is the Son of God.’

Still further, the Resurrection is God’s solemn ‘Amen’ to the tremendous claims which Christ had made. The fact of His Resurrection, indeed, would not declare His divinity; but the Resurrection of One who had spoken such words does. If the Cross and a nameless grave had been the end, what a reductio ad absurdum that would have been to the claims of Jesus to have ever been with the Father and to be doing always the things that pleased Him. The Resurrection is God’s last and loudest proclamation, ‘This is My beloved Son: hear ye Him.’ The Psalmist of old had learned to trust that his sonship and consecration to the Father made it impossible that that Father should leave his soul in Sheol, or suffer one who was knit to Him by such sacred bonds to see corruption; and the unique Sonship and perfect self-consecration of Jesus went down into the grave in the assured confidence, as He Himself declared, that the third day He would rise again. The old alternative seems to retain all its sharp points: Either Christ rose again from the dead, or His claims are a series of blasphemous arrogances and His character irremediably stained.

But we may also remember that Scripture not only represents Christ’s Resurrection as a divine act but also as the act of Christ’s own power. In His earthly life He asserted that His relation both to physical death and to resurrection was an entirely unique one. ‘I have power,’ said He, ‘to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again’; and yet, even in this tremendous instance of self-assertion, He remains the obedient Son, for He goes on to say, ‘This commandment have I received of My Father.’ If these claims are just, then it is vain to stumble at the miracles which Jesus did in His earthly life. If He could strip it off and resume it, then obviously it was not a life like other men’s. The whole phenomenon is supernatural, and we shall not be in the true position to understand and appreciate it and Him until, like the doubting Thomas, we fall at the feet of the risen Son, and breathe out loyalty and worship in that rapturous exclamation, ‘My Lord and my God.’

II. The Resurrection interprets Christ’s Death.

There is no more striking contrast than that between the absolute non-receptivity of the disciples in regard to all Christ’s plain teachings about His death and their clear perception after Pentecost of the mighty power that lay in it. The very fact that they continued disciples at all, and that there continued to be such a community as the Church, demands their belief in the Resurrection as the only cause which can account for it. If He did not rise from the dead, and if His followers did not know that He did so by the plainest teachings of common-sense, they ought to have scattered, and borne in isolated hearts the bitter memories of disappointed hopes; for if He lay in a nameless grave, and they were not sure that He was risen from the dead, His death would have been a conclusive showing up of the falsity of His claims. In it there would have been no atoning power, no triumph over sin. If the death of Christ were not followed by His Resurrection and Ascension, the whole fabric of Christianity falls to pieces. As the Apostle puts it in his great chapter on resurrection, ‘Ye are yet in your sins.’ The forgiveness which the Gospel holds forth to men does not depend on the mercy of God or on the mere penitence of man, but upon the offering of the one sacrifice for sins in His death, which is justified by His Resurrection as being accepted by God. If we cannot triumphantly proclaim ‘Christ is risen indeed,’ we have nothing worth preaching.

We are told now that the ethics of Christianity are its vital centre, which will stand out more plainly when purified from these mystical doctrines of a Death as the sin-offering for the world, and a Resurrection as the great token that that offering avails. Paul did not think so. To him the morality of the Gospel was all deduced from the life of Christ the Son of God as our Example, and from His death for us which touches men’s hearts and makes obedience to Him our joyful answer to what He has done for us. Christianity is a new thing in the world, not as moral teaching, but as moral power to obey that teaching, and that depends on the Cross interpreted by the Resurrection. If we have only a dead Christ, we have not a living Christianity.

III. Resurrection points onwards to Christ’s coming again.

Paul at Athens declared in the hearing of supercilious Greek philosophers, that the Jesus, whom he proclaimed to them, was ‘the Man whom God had ordained to judge the world in righteousness,’ and that ‘He had given assurance thereof unto all men, in that He raised Him from the dead.’ The Resurrection was the beginning of the process which, from the human point of view, culminated in the Ascension. Beyond the Ascension stretches the supernatural life of the glorified Son of God. Olivet cannot be the end, and the words of the two men in white apparel who stood amongst the little group of the upward gazing friends, remain as the hope of the Church: ‘This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.’ That great assurance implies a visible corporeal return locally defined, and having for its purpose to complete the work which Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, each advanced a stage. The Resurrection is the corner-stone of the whole Christian faith. It seals the truths that Jesus is the Son of God with power, that He died for us, that He has ascended on high to prepare a place for us, that He will come again and take us to Himself. If we, by faith in Him, take for ours the women’s greeting on that Easter morning, ‘The Lord hath risen indeed,’ He will come to us with His own greeting, ‘Peace be unto you.’

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Declared-with power; powerfully, conclusively manifested to be The Son of God-according to the Spirit of holiness; as to his divine nature. The words, "according to the Spirit of holiness," stand in contrast with the words, "according to the flesh," and seem to denote the divine Spirit of Christ, which was from eternity, and became mysteriously united with "the man Christ Jesus." To this divine nature holiness is ascribed as an essential attribute of deity.

By the resurrection from the dead; the resurrection of Christ was the crowning seal which God set to the claim of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Son of God in the high and incommunicable sense of having equality with God. Christ has a twofold nature, human and divine. He is both God and man. Of this, God has given abundant and conclusive evidence, which no man can reject without great guilt.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

4. “Defined the Son of God with power from the resurrection of the dead, through the Spirit of holiness.” The resurrection of our Savior by the omnipotent power of the Holy Ghost was the irrefutable confirmation of His Messiahship, the grand leverage of human faith and the prelude of the universal resurrection of the dead.

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord,’

For His greater manifestation came in that He was powerfully declared (or, more strongly, ‘appointed’ - see the use in Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31) to be the Son of God, in an act of power which revealed His own power. He was declared to be ‘the Son of God with power’, the Son of God powerful enough to bring about the resurrection. And His true divine Sonship was therefore made known by His immensely powerful resurrection from the dead, a resurrection in which He proclaimed the death of death, having triumphed over it once for all (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). Through it He also declared the defeat of the spiritual powers of darkness (Colossians 2:15). Satan would be bruised under their feet shortly (Romans 16:20). All that could prevent the salvation of His people was dealt with through His resurrection, and what had preceded it, something which demonstrated Who He really was, the Saviour of the world (1 John 4:14).

‘According to the spirit of holiness.’ This stands in apposition to ‘according to the flesh.’ In His flesh He was revealed as the son of David. In His spirit, a ‘spirit of holiness’, He was revealed as the only Son of God. (Compare how Paul describes himself as acting in a spirit of servitude - Romans 1:9). That being so, as the former refers to His essential humanity we must surely see the latter as referring to the divine element in His make-up. It was ‘the spirit of holiness’, that unique spirit which was manifested in Him, totally pure and totally righteous and totally powerful over death (‘death could not keep its prey, He tore the bars away’), that revealed Him to be the Son of God. For in Himself He had the power to lay down His life, and He had the power to take it again (John 10:18). He was in other words the Lord of life (John 11:25). This was what revealed Him to be the only, unique Son of God. This was what revealed Him to be ‘our LORD’, a title that constantly parallels ‘God’ in the New Testament and indicates the same thing. There is One God and one LORD. It is, equally with ‘God’, the title of deity (e.g. 1 Corinthians 8:8. And note also Philippians 2:11 where it is announced of Him in His manhood by the resurrection). He is the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8; James 2:1).

We do not necessarily by this have to exclude from our reckoning the power and working of the Holy Spirit, indeed we must not. ‘The Spirit of holiness’ could have been seen as a Hebraism for ‘the Holy Spirit’ (and is so seen by many), although the distinction of expression maintained by Paul (he never uses the term ‘Spirit of holiness’ elsewhere) confirms that we are to view it uniquely. Thus we may certainly see the Holy Spirit as acting alongside Christ’s Spirit (and with the Father) in the resurrection of Christ (see Romans 8:9-11 where Christ and Spirit inter-react). But that it is Christ’s Spirit which is primary comes out in the contrast with His flesh. The association of Jesus’ ‘spirit of holiness’ with the Holy Spirit would not be a blurring of distinctions, but a bringing out of the mystery of the Godhead, for where One acts, all act (e.g. Romans 8:8-9). The Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit (and the Father - John 5:17; John 5:19) act as One, and their working cannot be differentiated. It is we who, in our technical way, sometimes unwisely seek to over-emphasise the distinctions (although to make the distinction is necessary). But it is because of His ‘Spirit of holiness’ that Jesus can drench men with ‘the Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 3:11), while Himself coming to dwell within them (John 14:15-18; John 14:23).

‘By the resurrection from/of the dead ones.’ (For so it can be more literally translated). Acts 26:23 uses this phrase in such a way as to demonstrate that it refers primarily to the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:23). He was the firstfruits of the resurrection, the One Who arose from among the dead. But it is also a reminder that when Jesus rose it was not only Him Who was to be seen as rising. Intrinsically it guaranteed the resurrection of all who would become His, of all who truly believed in Him, who then partook in His resurrection spiritually (John 5:24; Ephesians 2:1-10), awaiting the day of physical resurrection (Romans 6:4-11). All who would belong to Him in essence rose with Him (Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 15:23). Thus every spiritually resurrected saint (see Romans 6:4; Romans 6:11, and compare Ephesians 2:1-10) reveals the Lordship of Christ. His resurrection encompassed them all. In other words His deity is equally revealed by His own resurrection and by the resurrection of those whom He came to save.

So the resurrection of Christ is seen as having introduced a new era. By it He has been manifested as, and declared to be, God’s only Son, and by it He has broken the powers of death and Hell, those elements which stood in the way of our enjoyment of an eternal inheritance. Because He lives we can live also (John 14:19). Indeed, as we shall see, this is what the letter is all about, for whilst our acceptability with God (our ‘justification’) is undoubtedly something which is at the heart of the letter, it is the final result of that justification in our transformation and glorification which is its final goal (chapter 8).

And Who is this unique and powerful Son of God? He is ‘Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Firstly He is ‘Jesus’, Who will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He is true man and true Saviour. Secondly He is ‘the Christ’, promised and prepared for by God’s word and by the prophets, and now manifested to the world. And above all He is ‘our LORD’, Lord of the Universe, co-equal with God the Father (John 5:19-23; John 14:7-9; Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9), Creator of all things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2-3), and of us, and the One Who has bought us with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Declared to be the Son of God. — The word here translated ‘declared,’ imports, according to the sense of the original as well as the connection, defined or proved. The term properly signifies, to point out, or to limit, as when bounds are set to a field to regulate its measurement. Jesus Christ was made or became the Son of David; but He did not become, but was declared, defined, or demonstrated to be the Son of God. That Jesus Christ is not called in this place the Son of God with reference to His incarnation or resurrection merely, is evident from the fact that His nature as the Son of God is here distinguished from His descent from David. This expression, the Son of God, definitely imports Deity, as applied to Jesus Christ. It as properly denotes participation of the Divine nature, as the contrasted expression, Son of Man, denotes participation of the human nature. As Jesus Christ is called the Son of Man in the proper sense to assert His humanity, so, when in contrast with this He is called the Son of God, the phrase must be understood in its proper sense as asserting His Deity. The words, indeed, are capable of a figurative application, of which there are many examples in Scripture. But one part of the contrast is not to be taken as literal, and the other as figurative; and if the fact of a phrase being capable of figurative acceptation incapacitates it from expressing its proper meaning, or renders its meaning inexplicably uncertain, no word or phrase could ever be definite. A word or phrase is never to be taken in a figurative sense, where its proper sense is suitable; for language would be unintelligible if it might be arbitrarily explained away as figurative. This appellation, Son of God, was indeed frequently ascribed to pious men; but if this circumstance disqualified the phrase from bearings a literal and definite meaning, there is not a word or phrase in language that is capable of a definite meaning in its proper signification.

The Apostle John says, ‘But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,’ by which he means to say who Christ is. Paul, after his conversion, ‘preached Christ in the synagogues.’ And what did he preach concerning Him? — ’That He was the Son of God.’

The great burden of Paul’s doctrine was, to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. That term, then, must definitely import His Divine nature. It is not only used definitely, but as expressing the most important article in the Christian faith; it is used as an epitome of the whole creed. When the eunuch desired to be baptized, ‘Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And He answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ The belief, then, of the import of this term is the substance of Christianity. Faith in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, overcometh the world. ‘Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that JESUS is the Son of God?’ In the confession of Peter, Matthew 16:16, this phrase is employed as an epitome of the Christian faith. To the question, ‘Whom say ye that I am?’ Peter replies, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ We have here the very essence of Christianity. It is asked, Who is Christ? The reply, then, must answer this question; it must inform us who Christ is, both as to His person, His office, and nature. Thou art the Christ, is the answer to the question, so far as it respects His person and office; Thou art the Son of the living God, is the answer as to His nature. The parable in which the king makes a marriage for his son, speaks the same doctrine, Matthew 22:2. Christ is there represented to be the Son of God, in the same sense in which a royal heir is the son of the king his father. If, then, the king’s son partake of the nature of his father, so must Jesus Christ, the Son of God, partake of the nature of His Father; if the king’s son be a son in the perfect sense of the term, and not a son figuratively, in like manner the Son of God is God’s Son in the proper sense.

The question put to the Pharisees by Jesus, Matthew 22:42, proves that the phrase Son of God means sonship by nature. ‘What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He?’ This question evidently refers to proper, not figurative sonship. When we ask whose son such a person is, it is palpably evident that we mean real, not figurative sonship. Though the question might have reference to our Lord’s human nature, and the inquiry relate to His father after the flesh, as the Pharisees understood, still it clearly denotes the natural relation; but that Christ did not intend it exclusively of His father as to the flesh, is evident from His next question: ‘If David, then, call Him Lord, how is He his Son?’ Jesus Christ could not mean to deny that He was the Son of David; but He intimates that, though He was the Son of David as to the flesh, He must be the Son of God in the same sense in which He was David’s Son. He asks, Who is the father of the Messiah? and from something affirmed of Him, intimates that there is a sense in which He is not David’s Son. The answer He received was true, but not full; the supply of the deficiency is ‘the Son of God’ The question, then, and the proper answer, imports that Jesus was the Son of God in the literal sense of the words. Besides, David could not call Him Lord as to His human nature; nor was He David’s Lord in any sense but that in which He was God.

The condemnation, also, of unbelievers rests on the foundation of the Savior’s dignity as the Son of God. ‘ He that believeth not is condemned already; because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten son of God.’ They are condemned not merely for rejecting His message, but for not believing in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. Faith, then, respects not His doctrine only, but Himself, especially as exhibited in His doctrine. Such sonship implies Deity.

In this Epistle, ch. 8, Paul argues that God will deny nothing to those for whom He has given His Son. But this argument would be ill founded, if Jesus be only figuratively His Son. ‘He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ This supposes that the gift of Christ is greater than the gift of all other things besides, and that in such a disproportion as to bear no comparison. If so, can He be anything else than truly Divine? Had He been the highest of created beings, it would not follow as a self-evident consequence that such a gift of Him implied the gift of all things else.

The epithets attached to this phrase, Son of God, show it to import proper sonship. Jesus is called God’s own Son, — the beloved — the well beloved Son, — the begotten — the only-begotten Son of God. This sonship, then is a sonship not only in a more eminent degree, but in a sense in which it is not true of any other in the lowest degree. God has other sons, but He has no other son in the sense in which Jesus is His Son.

He has no other son who enjoys the community of His nature. Therefore this Son is called His begotten, or His only-begotten Son. A begotten son is a son by nature; and Jesus must be designedly so designated, to distinguish His natural sonship from that which is figurative. The phrase is rendered still more definite by the addition of the word only. Jesus is thepar ONLY-begotten Son, because He is the only Son of God in the proper sense of the term. Other sons are figuratively sons, but He is the begotten Son, and the only-begotten Son.

The phrase own Son imports the truth of the sonship by another term, and is therefore an additional source of evidence. Own Son is a son by nature, in opposition to the son of another, to a son by law, and to all figurative sons. Christ, then, is God’s own Son, because He is His Son by nature, because He is not His Son by adoption in the view of the law, and because He is His Son in opposition to figurative sonships.

That the words, I and my Father are one , John 10:30, mean unity of nature, and not unity of design, is clear from our Lord’s account of the charge of the Jews: they charged Him with blasphemy for calling Himself the Son of God. ‘Say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?’

Now the words used were not, I am the Son of God. The words I and My Father are one must therefore be the same in import as I am the Son of God; but if the expression, I and My Father are one, is the same in import as, I am the Son of God, the former cannot mean, I am one in design with My Father. Jesus, in the 36th verse, represents the Jews as charging Him with blasphemy, not for saying that He was God, but for saying that He was the Son of God. This incontrovertibly proves that the Jews understood the phrase, Son of God, as importing Deity. The phrase is blasphemous when applied to a mere creature in no other sense than as importing Deity. 5 That the Lord Jesus Christ, in his eternal equality with the Father, and not merely as God manifested in the flesh, is called the Son of God, flows directly from the fact that, wherever the first person of the adorable Trinity is personally distinguished in Scripture, it is under the title, the co-relative title, of the Father. And what is the objection to this doctrine of our Lord’s eternal sonship? It is simply that it differs from all our ordinary notions of the filial relation, to represent the Son as co-eternal with the Father; or that begotten must necessarily mean ‘derived,’ and that to grant derivation is to surrender Deity. In regard to the last form of the objection, it is only necessary to remark, that the doctrine of Scripture is not to be held chargeable with the vain and unprofitable speculations about derived personality, on which some of its upholders have adventured. And in regard to the first, it is not difficult to see that it is destitute of force, except on the impious assumption that we are not bound to receive any declaration about the Divine nature, about the deepest mysteries which are veiled from our reason, and revealed only to our faith, unless we can fully comprehend it. To demand that the distinction of persons in the undivided essence of the Godhead, and the mode of their eternal subsistence, shall be made plain to us; or to repugn against the doctrine of the eternal filiation of the Son of God, because it overpasses the boundaries of our notions of sonship, — what is this but the very summit of unthinking arrogance?

What is it but to say that we will make our own narrow minds the measure of all things, — that we will accept nothing from pure respect to the authority of God, — that we will give the Faithful One only the credit which we allow to a suspected witness, receiving His evidence where it harmonizes with our own apprehensions, — and that, while to our feeble minds every insect is a mystery, there must be no arcana in the nature of Him who dwelleth in the light that is inaccessible?

With power. — Some explain the meaning of this to be, that by His resurrection Jesus Christ was powerfully declared to be the Son of God.

But He was not merely powerfully declared — which would intimate the high degree of the evidence — but, according to the Apostle, He was absolutely declared to be the Son of God. Some, again, suppose that He was declared to be the Son of God by the power of the Father who raised Him up. If this had been intended, it would not, it appears, have simply been said, with power, but by the power and glory of the Father, as in Romans 6:4, and 2 Corinthians 13:4. The expression, with power, is to be construed with that of the Son of God which immediately precedes it, not with the word declared, and signifies invested with power. All power was inherent in Him, as ‘God blessed for ever;’ but it was given to Him as Mediator, as He Himself declares, Matthew 28:18, John 17:2, and clearly manifested by His resurrection. He then appeared possessed of eternal, sovereign, and universal power, and that in opposition to the semblance of weakness in which He had appeared on earth. The dignity of His person having remained for some time concealed under the veil of weakness, His resurrection gloriously displayed His ineffable power, as the Conqueror of death, and by His power also evinced His dignity as the Son of God.

The power which was given to our Lord when He rose from the dead, was eminently displayed by His sending out the Holy Spirit, when He returned to the Father. Before His resurrection, if only the veil of infirmity with which, in His birth, he had been covered, was contemplated, He appeared merely as a man. But after His resurrection, if we turn our eyes to His sending forth the Holy Spirit, we behold Him as the Son of God invested with all power. For He who thus sends forth this glorious Spirit must be possessed of sovereign and infinite power, and consequently must be the Son of God. The Holy Spirit, too, whom Jesus Christ communicates, marks His divinity by other characters besides that of power, namely, by that of holiness, by that of majesty, by that of eternity, and that of infinity, proving that He only who bestows the Holy Spirit can be the eternal God, sovereignty holy, and sovereignly glorious.

The Apostle has, however, chosen the characteristic of power for two reasons — the one is to oppose it to the flesh, denoting weakness; and the other, because He has overcome the world, which is an act of ineffable power. To destroy the empire of Satan, to subdue the hearts of men, to change the face of the universe, displays a power which is truly Divine.

According to the Spirit of Holiness. — There are various interpretations of these terms, but the proper antithesis can only be preserved by referring them to Christ’s Divine nature. If the words are capable of this application, we need not hesitate to adopt it in this place; and though the phrase is unusual, there can be no doubt that it is capable of this meaning.

It is equally unusual in whatever sense it may be applied. This circumstance, then, cannot prevent it from referring to the Deity of Jesus Christ, in direct contrast to His humanity. Spirit of Holiness may be used here rather than the phrase Holy Spirit, because the latter is usually assigned to the third person of the Trinity. Though the exact expression does not occur elsewhere in the Scriptures, other passages corroborate this meaning, as ‘the Lord (that is, Christ) is that Spirit,’ 2 Corinthians 3:17.

He is called ‘a quickening Spirit,’ 1 Corinthians 15:45, which character belonged to Him in a particular manner after His resurrection, when He appeared as the spiritual Head of His Church, communicating spirit and life to all His members. The unusual expression, Spirit of Holiness, appears, then, here to denote His Deity, in contrast with His humanity, characterizing Him as God, who is a Spirit essentially holy.

In the verse before us, connected with the preceding, we see that it is upon the foundation of the union of the Divine and human natures, in the person of the Messiah, that Paul proceeds to establish all the great and important truths which he sets forth in this Epistle. In another passage, he afterwards explicitly asserts this union: ‘Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.’ Romans 9:5.

In the same manner Matthew commences his Gospel. He traces the genealogy of the human nature of Jesus Christ, and afterwards declares His Divine nature, Matthew 1:18,21,23. Mark begins by proclaiming Him to be the Son of God. ‘As it is written in the Prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord (of Jehovah), make His paths (for our God) straight,’ Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1. Luke introduces his Gospel by asserting His Divine nature.

In speaking of the coming of John the Baptist, he says, ‘And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God; and he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias;’ and then he declares His genealogy according to His human nature, Luke 1:16, and 3:23. John commences his Gospel by saying, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;’ and afterwards, ‘The Word was made flesh,’ John 1:1-14. Nearly in the same terms he commences and closes his first Epistle. The leading truth which the Apostles taught when they preached to the Jews at Jerusalem was, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah promised, who had been crucified, and who was raised from the dead, and exalted to the right hand of the Father; and the same great truth was declared to Cornelius, when the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles. The foundation of all that the Apostle advances in the Epistle to the Hebrews, respecting the superiority of the new over the old covenant, is established upon the union of the Divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. Having announced that He is the Son of God, he determines the import of that title, by quoting a passage which ascribes to Him the name, the throne, the kingdom, the righteousness, and the eternity of God. ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.’ The Apostle Peter begins his first Epistle by referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and his second, by designating Him as ‘our God and Savior.’ And as in the last prophetical book of the Old Testament the Messiah is called Jehovah, so the prophetical book which terminates the New Testament opens with announcing Him to be ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,’ and closes in a similar manner, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last,’ which signifies the self-existent eternal Jehovah. 6

By the resurrection from the dead. — His resurrection defined or determined Jesus Christ to be the person spoken of by the Prophets as the Son of God, and was the authentic and solemn judgment of God pronouncing Him to be His Son. As it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee, Acts 13:33. In Scripture, things are often said to be done when they are publicly declared and manifested. Then the Son of God was raised from the dead, His eternal dignity, which was before concealed, was brought to light. His Divine power, being infinite and unchangeable, could receive no augmentation of dignity or majesty. But, having chosen to appear among men enveloped as in a cloud of sufferings and apparent weakness, His glorification consisted in His emerging from that cloud, leaving the veil of infirmities in the tomb, without any of them adhering to Him, when, as the sun breaks forth in his splendor, He was gloriously manifested as the Son of God.

By His resurrection, God proclaimed to the universe that Christ was His only-begotten Son. The Apostle having in the foregoing verse called Jesus Christ the Son of God, here adds that He was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. His resurrection, then, did not constitute Him the Son of God; it only evinced that He was truly so. Jesus Christ had declared Himself to be the Son of God; and on this account the Jews charged Him with blasphemy, and asserted that He was a deceiver.

By His resurrection, the clear manifestation of the character He had assumed, gloriously and for ever terminated the controversy which had been maintained during the whole of His ministry on earth. In raising Him from the dead, God decided the contest. He declared Him to be His Son, and showed that He had accepted His death in satisfaction for the sins of His people, and consequently that He had suffered not for Himself, but for them, which none could have done but the Son of God. On this great fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul rests the truth of the Christian religion, without which the testimony of the Apostles would be false, and the faith of God’s people vain. ‘But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.’ His resurrection is a sure pledge that they who sleep in Jesus, God at His second appearance will bring with Him. As He triumphed in His resurrection over all His enemies, so His people shall arise to victory and blessedness. Then they shall know the power of the resurrection of Jesus, the grandeur of that event, and their interest in it through eternity.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ proved His sonship, because He had claimed that character during His life, and had appealed in proof of it to His rising from the dead, John 2:19. Had this testimony been untrue, it could not have taken place. And it not only proved His own eternal power and Godhead, but also manifested His oneness and union in all the perfections and distinguishing characters which constitute Godhead, in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost, each of these glorious persons concurring in that act, as we learn from other Scriptures.

Professor Stuart, in his Commentary, asks in this place, ‘How could the resurrection declare, in any special manner that Christ was the Son of God? Was not Lazarus raised from the dead? Were not others raised from the dead by Christ, by the Apostles, by Elijah, and by the bones of Elisha? And yet was their resurrection proof that they were the sons of God? God did indeed prepare the way for universal dominion to be given to Christ by raising Him from the dead. To the like purpose is the Apostle’s assertion in Acts 17:31. But how an event common to Him, to Lazarus, and to many others, could of itself demonstrate Him to be the Son of God, ἐν δυνάμει — remains yet to be shown.’ This is feeble reasoning. It shows that Mr. Stuart is entirely mistaken as to the manner in which the resurrection of Christ bears testimony to His character. Jesus Christ came into the world professing to be the Son of God, and was put to death for that profession. His resurrection, then, was God’s seal to the truth of this claim. In itself, it did not testify whether He was God or only man, but it fully established the truth of everything He taught; and as He taught His own Godhead, His resurrection is proof of His Deity. But how could it ever be supposed that the resurrection of Lazarus would prove as much for him as for Christ? Lazarus did not, before his death, profess to be the Son of God, and Mediator. He never predicted his resurrection as an event which was to decide the justice of his pretensions; and had he done so, he would not have been raised to confirm a falsehood. Professor Stuart’s argument concludes as strongly against the proof of sonship, in any sense, from the resurrection of Christ, as against proper sonship. The mere fact of being raised from the dead is not evidence of being even a good man. But in whatever sense Jesus is the Son of God, His resurrection is here stated by the Apostle to be the grand proof.

Before His departure, Jesus Christ told His disciples that when the Comforter came He should convince the world ‘of righteousness, because,’ said He, ‘I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more.’ In raising Him from the dead, and receiving Him up into glory, God declared that the everlasting righteousness which the Messiah came to ‘bring in’ was accomplished. His honorable reception by His Father who sent Him, furnished the most complete proof that He had faithfully fulfilled the purposes of His mission. ‘For if,’ says Archbishop Usher, ‘He had broken prison and made an escape, the payment of the debt which, as our surety, He took upon Himself, being not yet satisfied, He should have been seen here again; Heaven would not have held Him more than Paradise did Adam, after He had fallen into God’s debt.’ To the same purpose says Bates, ‘If He had remained in the grave, it had been reasonable to believe Him an ordinary person, and that His death had been the punishment of His presumption; but His resurrection was the most illustrious and convincing evidence that He was what He declared Himself to be. For it is not conceivable that God should put forth an almighty power to raise Him, and thereby authorize His resurrection, if by robbery He had assumed that glorious title of the Son of God. If, indeed, a single sin which had been “laid on Him” had been left unexpiated, He must have remained for ever in the grave: death would in that case have detained Him as its prisoner; for the wages of sin is death.’

By His incarnation, Jesus Christ received in His human nature the fullness of His Spirit; but He received it covered with the veil of His flesh. By His death He merited the Spirit to sanctify His people; but still this was only a right which He had acquired, without its execution. By His resurrection He entered into the full exercise of this right; He received the full dispensation of the Spirit, to communicate it to them; and it was then He was declared to be the Son of God with power.

5: In Dr. Carson’s triumphant Reply to Dr. Drummond’s Arian Essay on the Doctrine of the Trinity, published in Dublin, containing a masterly exposition of John 10:30-39, the above subject is fully discussed. He closes a long dissertation on the import of the term, ‘the Son of God,’ by saying, ‘If I have not shown that it definitely expresses Deity, as applied to Jesus Christ, I would despair of proving that the name of Jesus Christ is in the Bible.’
6: The name Jehovah, derived from a root which signifies to be, is expressive of the most perfect and independent existence. It represents God as the Author of all being. Where the word LORD is printed in the Old Testament in capitals, in the original it is Jehovah.

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Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". 1835.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4. DeclaredOutlined. The word is derived from ορος, a boundary line, and signifies bounded, as with a line. As a painter draws an exact outline of an object, so the form and nature of Jesus was as it were chalked or outlined as God’s Son.

With power—Rather in power, referring to the wondrous display of power with which God declared his Son at the resurrection. (See note on Matthew 28:2-4.) He was prophetically outlined as Son of God by the prophets by divine knowledge; the outline was filled up by divine power.

Spirit of holiness—This completes the antithesis embodied in the person of Christ, Son of man according to the flesh, Son of God according to the spirit of holiness. This last phrase does not designate the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, but that spirit whose attribute is holiness. (See note on Luke 1:35.)

By the resurrection from the dead—Literally, from resurrection of dead, dead, or dead ones, being plural. (See note on Luke 20:35.) Resurrection of dead, or of dead ones, probably is a reference to the fact that the act of power that raised Jesus also raised a retinue of saints, as an earnest of the power by which the final resurrection of all through him would be accomplished. (See note on Matthew 27:53.) The preposition from is used to indicate that it was out from this manifold display of power that the demonstration came that he was, as the centurion confessed, what he claimed to be, the Son of God.

The antithesis of Christ’s nature (given with much beauty from the Greek by Dr. Forbes) may be thus presented in English:

The born | from seed of David | according to flesh.

The outlined | from resurrection of dead | according to spirit.

This is a striking representation of the human and the divine in the Godman.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 1:4. Who was installed, or, ‘declared,’ the Son of God.’ The clause is strictly parallel with ‘who was born.’(The word ‘and’ as well as the phrase ‘to be ‘are interpolated in the E. V.) The word translated ‘declared’ has been much discussed. It first meant, to bound, define, determine, etc. In this case a mistake of the Latin Vulgate has confounded it with the word meaning ‘predestined.’ The sense ‘constituted,’ in so far as that implies that the Sonship began at the resurrection, is an impossible one. The two allowable meanings are: (1) instated or installed; (2) declared, manifested, etc. They differ in this respect that (1) points to what God did, and (2) to the human recognition or proof of the Sonship of Christ. The former seems to be the more natural sense, but the latter is usually accepted. In neither case is there any suggestion that Christ became the Son of God in consequence of the resurrection, although the human nature of Christ was then exalted, and made partaker of the glory which eternally belonged to the Son, John 17:5, ‘For although Christ was already the Son of God before the creation of the world, and as such was sent (chap. Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4), nevertheless there was needed a fact, by means of which He should receive, after the humiliation that began with his birth (Philippians 2:7 ff.), instating into the rank and dignity of His divine Sonship; whereby also, as its necessary consequence with a view to the knowledge and conviction of men, He was legitimately established as the Son’ (Meyer).

With power. Lit, ‘in power.’ This should be connected with ‘declared’; it thus sets forth the in-stating by the resurrection as an exhibition of the divine power. Some, however, prefer to join the phrase with ‘Son of God,’ thus contrasting the majesty and power of the risen Son of God with the weakness of His human nature. In any case the whole phrase ‘installed the Son of God with power,’ is to be taken together as in contrast with ‘was born’ (Romans 1:3).

According to the Spirit of holiness. This is evidently in contrast with ‘according to the flesh,’ and must set forth—that side of the person of Christ wherein He differs absolutely from those who are only human. This would exclude a reference to the personal Holy Spirit, who is nowhere designated by this phrase, also to the human spirit of Christ as distinct from His body and soul (see on Romans 1:3). God is a Spirit, hence the divine nature of the Incarnate Son of God is Spirit. Of this ‘Spirit’ the characteristic quality is ‘holiness.’ We reject the view which explains ‘holiness’ as ‘sanctification.’

By the resurrection of the dead. Literally, ‘out of resurrection of dead.’’ Out of’ is here equivalent to ‘by means of,’ and not to ‘after’ or ‘since,’ as some have imagined ‘Resurrection,’ though without the article, refers to the historical fact by virtue of which was accomplished the exaltation of the Son of God, who had previously humbled himself to be born. Hence it seems best to insert the article in English. ‘Of the dead’ is probably not identical with ‘from the dead’ (as in E.V.), but points to the resurrection of Christ as the fact which implies and guarantees the final resurrection of all believers.

Jesus Christ our Lord. ‘Having given this description of the person and dignity of the Son of God, very man and very God, he now identifies this divine person with Jesus Christ, the Lord and Master of Christians, the historical object of their faith, and (see words following) the Appointer of himself to the apostolic office’ (Alford). ‘Jesus’ is the personal name; ‘Christ’ the official name; ‘our Lord,’ taking up the word applied to Jehovah in the Septuagint, presents Him as the supreme Lord of the New Dispensation, the personal Master and King of all believers. The full phrase always has a solemn and triumphant tone, and here serves not only to exalt Christ, but to express the high dignity of the apostolic office (Romans 1:1; Romans 1:5), the leading idea in the address.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary



Qui prædestinatus est. St. John Chrysostom, Greek: om. a. p. 7. Ed. Sau. Greek: ti oun estin oristhentos; deichthentos, apophanthentos.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Romans 1:4 who was declared {to be} the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; {even} Jesus Christ our Lord,

"Declared..with power"-(Acts 2:36). The Resurrection was the final miracle that confirmed the obvious in a very striking and triumphant manner, this is the Son of God

"spirit of holiness"-many feel this expression refers to the divine side of Christ. Compare with verse "according to the flesh".

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

declared = marked out. Greek. horizo. See Acts 2:23. Compare Psalms 2:7.

Son of God. App-98.

with power = in (Greek. en) power (Greek. dunamis. App-172.); i.e. powerfully. Compare Philippians 3:10.

spirit. App-101.

holiness. Greek. hagiosune. Only here, 2 Corinthians 7:1. 1 Thessalonians 3:13. Nowhere in Greek. literature. It is the Genitive of apposition (App-17.) The expression is not to be confounded with pneuma hagion (App-101.) His Divine spiritual nature in resurrection is here set in contrast with His human flesh as seed of David.

resurrection. Greek. anastasis. App-178. Compare Acts 26:23.

from = of.

dead. App-139. See Matthew 27:52, Matthew 27:53.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

And declared to be the Son of God , [ horisthentos (Greek #3724)] - 'marked off,' 'pointed out,' and so 'declared,' or 'evinced'-as the best critics, ancient and modern, take the sense to be. [The Old Latin-apparently confounding horisthentos (Greek #3724) with prooristhentos-rendered it proedestinatus, which Jerome unhappily retained in the Vulgate; and though Estius apologizes for it, he admits it to be a forced interpretation. Erasmus has some excellent remarks on this word.] It cannot escape the attentive observer of these words how warily the apostle changes his language here. "He was made (he says) of the seed of David according to the flesh;" but he does not say, 'He was made the Son of God;' on the contrary, he says, He was only "declared (or 'manifested') to be the Son of God" - precisely as in John 1:1; John 1:14, "In the beginning was the Word ... And the Word was made flesh;" and Isaiah 9:6, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given." Thus is the Sonship of Christ held forth, not as a thing of time and of human birth, but as an essential and uncreated Sonship; the Son of God being by His Incarnation only enshrined in our nature, and thus efflorescing into public manifestation. But not until His resurrection from the dead could even His most penetrating disciples say, in the fullest sense, "We beheld His glory." Then only, and thus, was He "manifested to be the Son of God" --

With power. If we connect this with the preceding words - "the Son of God with power" - the meaning is, that that power which He all along possessed, but which was veiled from human view until then, shone brightly forth when He arose from the dead. (So the Vulgate, Chrysostom, Melancthon, Calvin, Philippi, Lange, etc., understand it, as we ourselves did formerly.) But it seems better to connect these words with "declared;" and then the sense is, He was 'with power declared,' or gloriously evinced to be the Son of God by His resurrection. (So Luther, Beza, Bengel, Fritzsche, Meyer, Tholuck, etc.)

According to the Spirit of holiness , [ kata (Greek #2596) pneuma (Greek #4151) hagioosunees (Greek #42)] - an uncommon and somewhat difficult phrase, the sense of which depends on whether we have here a climax or a contrast. Those who would set aside the testimony here borne to the divinity of Christ hold that the apostle is not contrasting the lower and the higher natures of Christ, but describing the transition of Christ from a lower to a higher condition of existence, or out of his humbled state, from birth to death, into the exalted state of resurrection and glory. In this case, "the Spirit of holiness" is understood to mean either the Holy Spirit or that 'spiritual energy' which dwelt in him beyond other men, and manifested itself pre-eminently at his resurrection. Those who acknowledge nothing in Christ higher than mere Humanity, of course take this view; but some of the orthodox interpret this passage substantially in the same way.

But since beyond all doubt "the flesh," in such passages, means 'human nature' in its frailty and mortality (see the note at John 1:14, p. 348), and consequently Christ's being made of the seed of David "according to the flesh" must mean His being descended from David 'in respect of His human nature,' it follows that His being "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness," must mean that He was manifested to be such according to His other and higher nature, which we have seen to be that of the uncreated, essential "Son of God." But why should the apostle call this "the Spirit?" Doubtless because he had spoken of His human nature under the name of "the flesh;" and "flesh" and "spirit" are the usual contrasts to each other. In 2 Corinthians 3:17 (says Tholuck) - "Now the Lord is the Spirit" - the substance or element that constitutes the higher Personality of Christ is called Spirit.

And if "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24), why should not this incarnate God be entitled to the name of "Spirit" in an absolute sense? Clement of Rome (Eph 2, 100: 9) [or whoever wrote that letter] has these words, 'Christ the Lord, being first Spirit, became flesh' [ Christos (Greek #5547) ho (Greek #3588) Kurios (Greek #2962), oon (Greek #5607) men (Greek #3303) pneuma (Greek #4151), egeneto (Greek #1096) sarx (Greek #4561)]. In the same sense are we to understand that expression in Hebrews 9:14, "the eternal Spirit;" and in 1 Timothy 3:16 we have the same contrast between "flesh" and "spirit" as here.' But one question more occurs, Why is this Higher Nature of Christ termed "the Spirit of holiness?" In all probability, because if he had said "according to the Holy Spirit," his readers would certainly have understood him to be speaking about the Holy Spirit; and it was to avoid this that we think he used the uncommon phrase, "according to the Spirit of holiness" [q.d., 'quoad spiritum sacrosanctum.' It may here be observed that hagioosunee (Greek #42), as distinguished from hagiotees (Greek #41), may be presumed from its form to denote 'the subjective condition,' as distinguished from 'the objective quality.']

By the resurrection from the dead , [ ex (Greek #1537) anastaseoos (Greek #386) nekroon (Greek #3498)] - literally, 'by the resurrection of the dead;' the risen Head being here regarded as but the First-fruits of them that sleep. [Luther wrongly renders ex (Greek #1537) here, 'since,' or 'after'-misled probably by the Vulgate's ex, which, though capable of this sense, was in all likelihood intended to convey the idea of 'by' or 'through.']

(4) From this Glorious Person Flowed the Writer's Grace and Apostleship-The World-wide Scope of his Message-Its Efficacy at Rome

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) With power.—That is, in a transcendent and superhuman manner.

According to the spirit of holiness.—In antithesis to “according to the flesh,” and therefore coming where we should expect “in His divine nature.” And yet there is a difference, the precise shade of which is not easy to define. What are we to understand by the “spirit of holiness”? Are we to regard it as simply convertible with “Holy Spirit”? Not quite. Or are we to look upon it as corresponding to “the flesh,” as “spirit” and “flesh” correspond in man? Again, not quite—or not merely. The spirit of Christ is human, for Christ took upon Him our nature in all its parts. It is human; and yet it is in it more especially that the divinity resides. It is in it that the “Godhead dwells bodily,” and the presence of the Godhead is seen in the peculiar and exceptional “holiness” by which it is characterised. The “spirit,” therefore, or that portion of His being to which St. Paul gives the name, in Christ, is the connecting-link between the human and the divine, and shares alike in both. It is the divine “enshrined” in the human, or the human penetrated and energised by the divine. It is, perhaps, not possible to get beyond metaphorical language such as this. The junction of the human and divine must necessarily evade exact definition, and to carry such definition too far would be to misrepresent the meaning of the Apostle. We may compare with this passage 1 Timothy 3:16, “God (rather, Who) was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit:” or St. Peter’s phrase, “Put to death in the flesh. but quickened by the Spirit”—rather, in the spirit, as the seat of that divinity by virtue of which He overcame death—(1 Peter 3:18).

The particular act in which the Sonship of Christ was most conspicuously ratified and confirmed was His resurrection from the dead. It was ratified by His resurrection, as a manifestation of transcendent and divine power. (Comp. Acts 2:24 et seq.; Acts 17:31; Romans 4:24.)

It should be observed that this antithesis between the human and divine nature in Christ is not here intended to carry with it any disparagement of the former. Rather the Apostle wishes to bring out the completeness and fulness of the dignity of Christ, as exhibited on both its sides. He is at once the Jewish Messiah (and with the Jewish section of the Church at Rome this fact would carry great weight) and the Son of God.

By the resurrection from the dead.—Strictly, by the resurrection of the dead. There is a slight distinction to be observed between the two phrases. It is not “by His resurrection from the dead,” but in an abstract and general sense, “by the resurrection of the dead”—by that resurrection of which Christ was the firstfruits.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
Gr. determined. the Son.
3; John 2:18-21; Acts 2:24,32; 3:15; 4:10-12; 5:30-32; 13:33-35; 17:31; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 1:19-23; Hebrews 5:5,6; Revelation 1:18
Luke 18:31-33; 24:26,27; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 1:21; Revelation 19:10

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

Declared to the Son of God. The word ὁρίζειν means,

1. To limit, or bound, and, in reference to ideas, to define.

2. To determine. Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; Hebrews 4:7.

3. To appoint, or constitute. Acts 10:42.

ὁ ὡρισμένος ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ κριτὴς ζώντων καὶ νεκρῶν. Acts 17:31. This last sense is given by some few commentators to ὁρισθέντος in this passage. The apostle would then say that Christ was appointed, or constituted the Son of God, by or after his resurrection. But this is inconsistent with what he elsewhere teaches, viz., that Christ was the Son of God before the foundation of the world, Colossians 1:15. As shown above, Son of God is not a title of office, but of nature, and therefore Christ cannot be said to have been constituted the Son of God. This interpretation also would involve the latter part of the verse in great difficulties. Hence even those commentators who most strenuously insist on adhering to the signification of words, are constrained, ex necessitate loci, to understand ὁρισθέντος here declaratively, or in reference to the knowledge of men. That is, when Christ is said to be constituted the Son of God, we are not to understand that he became or was made Son, but was, in the view of men, thus determined.‹6›

The vulgate reads, qui praedestinatus est, which version is followed by most of the Roman Catholic interpreters, and by Grotius. This rendering is probably founded on the reading προορισθέντος, which, although old, has little evidence in its favor. Neither is the sense thus expressed suited to the context. Christ was not predestined to be the Son of God. He was such from eternity.

With power; τουτέστι, says Theophylact, ἀπὸ τῆς δυνάμεως τῶν σημείων ῶν ἐποίει; Theodoret also understands these words to refer to the miracles which Jesus, by the power of the Holy Ghost, wrought in confirmation of his claim to be the Son of God. The former of these commentators takes ἐν δυνάμει, κατὰ πνεῦμα, ἐξ ἀναστάσεως, as indicating three distinct sources of proof of the Sonship of Christ. He was proved by his miraculous power, by the Holy Spirit either as given to him, or as by him given to his people (the latter is Theophylact's view), and by his resurrection, to be the Son of God. But the change of the prepositions, and especially the antithetical structure of the sentence, by which κατὰ πνεῦμα is obviously opposed to κατὰ σάρκα, are decisive objections to this interpretation. Others propose to connect ἐν δυνάμει ωιτη υἱοῦ, Son in power, for powerful Son; a more common and more natural construction is to connect them with ὁρισθέντος, proved, or declared with power, for powerfully, effectually proved to be the Son of God. He was declared with emphasis to be the Son of God, ita ut ejus rei plenissima et certissima sit fides, Winzer.

According to the Spirit of holiness. As just remarked, these words are in antithesis with κατὰ σάρκα; as to the flesh he was the Son of David, as to the Spirit the Son of God. As σάρξ means his human nature, πνεῦμα can hardly mean anything else than the higher or divine nature of Christ. The word πνεῦμα may be taken in this sense in 1 Timothy 3:16 ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι, justified by the Spirit, i.e., he was shown to be just, his claims were all sustained by the manifestations of his divine nature, i.e., of his divine power and authority. Hebrews 9:14 ὃς διὰ πνεύματος αἰωνίου, who with an eternal Spirit offered himself unto God. 1 Peter 3:18 is a more doubtful passage. The genitive ἁγιωσύνἡ is a qualification of πνεῦμα, Spirit of holiness; the Spirit whose characteristic is holiness. This expression seems to be here used, to prevent ambiguity, as Holy Spirit is appropriated as the designation of the third person of the Trinity. As the word holy often means august, venerandus, so ἁγιωσύνη expresses that attribute of a person which renders him worthy of reverence; πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνἡ is therefore, Spiritus summe venerandus, the θεότἡ, divine nature, or Godhead, which dwelt in Jesus Christ; the Logos, who in the beginning was with God, and was God, and who became flesh and dwelt among us. That πνεῦμα does not here mean the spiritual state of exaltation of Christ, is plain; first, because the word is never so used elsewhere; and, secondly, because it is inconsistent with the antithesis to κατὰ σάρκα. Those who understand the phrase "Spirit of holiness" to refer to the Holy Spirit, either, as before remarked, suppose that the apostle refers to the evidence given by the Spirit to the Sonship of Christ, hence Calvin renders κατὰ πνεῦμα per Spiritum; or they consider him as appealing to the testimony of the Spirit as given in the Scriptures. ‘Christ was declared to be the Son of God, agreeably to the Spirit.' To both these views, however, the same objection lies, that it destroys the antithesis.

ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, is rendered by Erasmus, Luther, and others, after the resurrection from the dead. It was not until Christ had risen that the evidence of his Sonship was complete, or the fullness of its import known even to the apostles. But it is better suited to the context, and more agreeable to the Scripture, to consider the resurrection itself, as the evidence of his Sonship. It was by the resurrection that he was proved to be the Son of God. "God," says the apostle, "will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all, in that he hath raised him from the dead." Acts 17:31. The apostle Peter also says, that "God hath begotten us to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Peter 1:3. Comp. 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 13:35; Acts 26:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20. In these and many other passages the resurrection of Christ is represented as the great conclusive evidence of the truth of all that Christ taught, and of the validity of all his claims. If it be asked how the resurrection of Christ is a proof of his being the Son of God, it may be answered, first, because he rose by his own power. He had power to lay down his life, and he had power to take it again, John 10:18. This is not inconsistent with the fact taught in so many other passages, that he was raised by the power of the Father, because what the Father does the Son does likewise; creation, and all other external works, are ascribed indifferently to the Father, Son, and Spirit. But in the second place, as Christ had openly declared himself to be the Son of God, his rising from the dead was the seal of God to the truth of that declaration. Had he continued under the power of death, God would thereby have disallowed his claim to be his Son; but as he raised him from the dead, he publicly acknowledged him; saying, Thou art my Son, this day have I declared thee such. "If Christ be not right, then is our preaching vain," says the apostle, "and your faith is also vain. But now is Christ risen, and become the first fruits of them that slept."

Jesus Christ our Lord. These words are in apposition with τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ of the third verse; "his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." All the names of Christ are precious to his people. He is called Jesus, Savior, because he saves his people from their sins, Matthew 1:21. The name Christ, i.e., Messiah, Anointed, connects him with all the predictions and promises of the Old Testament. He is the anointed prophet, priest, and king, to whom all believing eyes had been so long directed, and on whom all hopes centered. He is κύριος ἡμῶν our Lord. This word indeed is often used as a mere term of respect, equivalent to Sir, but as it is employed by the lxx, as the common substitute of Jehovah, or rather as the translation of אֲדוֹנָי, adonai, in the sense of supreme Lord and possessor, so it is in the New Testament applied in the same sense to Christ. He is our supreme Lord and possessor. We belong to him, and his authority over us is absolute, extending to the heart and conscience as well as to the outward conduct; and to him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. He, then, who in this exalted sense is our Lord, is, as to his human nature, the Son of David, and, as to his Divine nature, the Son of God.

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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:4". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians.

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