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Chapter 1

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

1:1 Paul [Paulos]. Roman name [Paulus]. See on Ac 13:9 for the origin of this name by the side of Saul. Servant [doulos]. Bond-slave of Jesus Christ (or Christ Jesus as some MSS. give it and as is the rule in the later Epistles) for the first time in the Epistles in the opening sentence, though the phrase already in Ga 1:10. Recurs in Php 1:1 and [desmios] (bondsman) in Phm 1:1. Called to be an apostle [klētos apostolos]. An apostle by vocation (Denney) as in 1Co 1:1. In Ga 1:1 [klētos] is not used, but the rest of the verse has the same idea. Separated [aphōrismenos]. Perfect passive participle of [aphorizō] for which verb see on Ga 1:15. Paul is a spiritual Pharisee (etymologically), separated not to the oral tradition, but to God’s gospel, a chosen vessel (Ac 9:15). By man also (Ac 13:2). Many of Paul's characteristic words like [euaggelion] have been already discussed in the previous Epistles that will call for little comment from now on.

1:2 He promised afore [proepēggeilato]. First aorist middle of [proepaggellō] for which verb see on 2Co 9:5. By [dia]. Through, by means of, intermediate agency like Mt 1:22 which see. In the holy scriptures [en graphais hagiais]. No article, yet definite. Perhaps the earliest use of the phrase (Sanday and Headlam). Paul definitely finds God’s gospel in the Holy Scriptures.

1:3 Concerning his Son [peri tou huiou autou]. Just as Jesus found himself in the O.T. (Lu 24:27, 46). The deity of Christ here stated. According to the flesh [kata sarka]. His real humanity alongside of his real deity. For the descent from David see Mt 1:1,6,20; Lu 1:27; Joh 7:42; Ac 13:23, etc.

1:4 Who was declared [tou horisthentos]. Articular participle (first aorist passive) of [horizō] for which verb see on Lu 22:22; Ac 2:23. He was the Son of God in his preincarnate state (2Co 8:9; Php 2:6) and still so after his Incarnation (verse 3, “of the seed of David”), but it was the Resurrection of the dead [ex 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. 1Co 15) gave God’s seal “with power” [en dunamei], “in power,” declared so in power (2Co 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 [kata pneuma hagiōsunēs]. Not the Holy Spirit, but a description of Christ ethically as [kata sarka] describes him physically (Denney). [Hagiōsunē] is rare (1Th 3:13; 2Co 7:1 in N.T.), three times in LXX, each time as the attribute of God. “The [pneuma hagiōsunēs], though not the Divine nature, is that in which the Divinity or Divine Personality Resided “ (Sanday and Headlam). Jesus Christ our Lord [Iēsou Christou tou kuriou hēmōn]. These words gather up the total personality of Jesus (his deity and his humanity).

1:5 Unto obedience of faith [eis hupakoēn pisteōs]. Subjective genitive as in 16:26, the obedience which springs from faith (the act of assent or surrender).

1:6 Called to be Jesus Christ’s [klētoi Iēsou Christou]. Predicate genitive after [klētoi] (verbal adjective from [kaleō], to call), though it is possible to consider it the ablative case, “called of (or from) Jesus Christ.”

1:7 In Rome [en Rōmēi]. One late uncial (G of tenth century) and a cursive omit these words here and one or two other late MSS. omit [en Rōmēi] in verse 15. This possibly proves the Epistle was circulated as a circular to a limited extent, but the evidence is late and slight and by no means shows that this was the case in the first century. It is not comparable with the absence of [en Ephesōi] in Eph 1:1 from Aleph and B (the two oldest and best MSS.). Beloved of God [agapētois theou]. Ablative case of [theou] after the verbal adjective like [didaktoi theou] (taught of God) in Joh 6:45 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 516). From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ [apo theou patros hēmōn kai kuriou Iēsou Christou]. “St. Paul, if not formally enunciating a doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, held a view which cannot really be distinguished from it” (Sanday and Headlam). Paul’s theology is clearly seen in the terms used in verses 1-7.

1:8 First [prōton men]. Adverb in the accusative case, but no [epeita de] (in the next place) as in Heb 7:2 or [epeita] as in Jas 3:17 follows. The rush of thoughts crowds out the balanced phraseology as in Ro 3:2; 1Co 11:18. Through [dia]. As the mediator or medium of thanksgiving as in 7:25. For [peri]. Concerning, about. That [hoti]. Or because. Either declarative or causal [hoti] makes sense here. Your faith [hē pistis humōn]. “Your Christianity” (Sanday and Headlam). Is proclaimed [kataggelletai]. Present passive indicative of [kataggellō], to announce [aggellō] up and down [kata]. See also [anaggellō], to bring back news (Joh 5:15), [apaggellō], to announce from one as the source (Mt 2:8), [prokataggellō], to announce far and wide beforehand (Ac 3:18). Throughout all the world [en holōi tōi kosmōi]. Natural hyperbole as in Col 1:6; Ac 17:6. But widely known because the church was in the central city of the empire.

1:9 I serve [latreuō]. Old verb from [latron], hire, and [latris], hireling, so to serve for hire, then to serve in general gods or men, whether sacred services (Heb 9:9; 10:2) or spiritual service as here. Cf. Ro 12:1; Php 3:3. Unceasingly [adialeiptōs]. Late adverb for which see 1Th 1:2f.; 2:13; 5:17, only other N.T. examples. Always [pantote]. One might think that Paul prayed for no others, but he uses both adverbs in 1Th 1:2. He seems to have had prayer lists. He never omitted the Romans.

1:10 If by any means now at length [ei pōs ēdē pote]. A condition of the first class in the form of an indirect question (aim) or elliptical condition like Ac 27:12 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1024). Note the four particles together to express Paul’s feelings of emotion that now at length somehow it may really come true. I may be prospered [euodōthēsomai]. First future passive indicative of [euodoō] for which verb see on 1Co 16:2. By the will of God [en tōi thelēmati tou theou]. Paul’s way lay “in” God’s will.

1:11 Impart [metadō]. Second aorist active subjunctive of [metadidōmi], to share with one. See on Lu 3:11; 1Th 2:8. To the end ye may be established [eis to stērichthēnai humas]. Final clause (common in Paul) with [eis to] and the first aorist passive infinitive of [stērizō] for which verb see on Lu 22:32; 1Th 3:3,13.

1:12 That is [touto de estin]. “An explanatory correction” (Denney). The [de] should not be ignored. Instead of saying that he had a spiritual gift for them, he wishes to add that they also have one for him. That I with you may be comforted [sunparaklēthēnai en humin]. “My being comforted in you [en humin] together [sun-] with you,” a mutual blessing to each party (you and me).

1:13 Oftentimes I purposed [pollakis proethemēn]. Second aorist middle of [protithēmi], old verb to place, to propose to oneself, in N.T. only here, 3:25; Eph 1:9. See Ac 19:21 for this purpose. And was hindered [kai ekōluthēn]. “But was hindered,” adversative use of [kai]. That I might have some fruit [hina tina karpon schō]. Second aorist (ingressive), active of [echō], to have, and here means “might get (ingressive aorist) some fruit.”

1:14 On debtor [opheiletēs] see Ga 5:3. Both to Greeks and to Barbarians [Hellēsin te kai barbarois]. The whole human race from the Greek point of view, Jews coming under [barbarois]. On this word see Ac 18:2,4; 1Co 4:11; Col 3:11 (only N.T. instances). The Greeks called all others barbarians and the Jews termed all others Gentiles. Did Paul consider the Romans as Greeks? They had absorbed the Greek language and culture.

1:15 So as much as in me is I am ready [houtō to kat’ eme prothumon]. Literally, “Thus the according to me affair is ready” [prothumos], old adjective, [pro, thumos]. It is an awkward idiom like to [ex humōn] in 12:18. The plural [ta kat’ eme] we find in Php 1:12; Col 4:7; Eph 6:21.

1:16 It is the power of God [dunamis theou estin]. This Paul knew by much experience. He had seen the dynamite of God at work. To the Jew first, and also to the Greek [Ioudaiōi te prōton kai Hellēni]. Jesus had taught this (Joh 4:22; 10:16; Lu 24:47; Ac 1:8). The Jew is first in privilege and in penalty (Ro 2:9f.). It is not certain that [prōton] is genuine, but it is in 2:9f.

1:17 For therein [gar en autōi]. In the gospel (verse 16) of which Paul is not ashamed. A righteousness of God [dikaiosunē theou]. Subjective genitive, “a God kind of righteousness,” one that each must have and can obtain in no other way save “from faith unto faith” [ek pisteōs eis pistin], faith the starting point and faith the goal (Lightfoot). Is revealed [apokaluptetai]. It is a revelation from God, this God kind of righteousness, that man unaided could never have conceived or still less attained. In these words we have Paul’s statement in his own way of the theme of the Epistle, the content of the gospel as Paul understands it. Every word is important: [sōtērian] (salvation), [euaggelion] (gospel), [apokaluptetai] (is revealed), [dikaiosunē theou] (righteousness of God), [pistis] (faith) and [pisteuonti] (believing). He grounds his position on Hab 2:4 (quoted also in Ga 3:11). By “righteousness” we shall see that Paul means both “justification” and “sanctification.” It is important to get a clear idea of Paul’s use of [dikaiosunē] here for it controls the thought throughout the Epistle. Jesus set up a higher standard of righteousness [dikaiosunē] in the Sermon on the Mount than the Scribes and Pharisees taught and practised (Mt 5:20) and proves it in various items. Here Paul claims that in the gospel, taught by Jesus and by himself there is revealed a God kind of righteousness with two ideas in it (the righteousness that God has and that he bestows). It is an old word for quality from [dikaios], a righteous man, and that from [dikē], right or justice (called a goddess in Ac 28:4), and that allied with [deiknumi], to show, to point out. Other allied words are [dikaioō], to declare or make [dikaios] (Ro 3:24,26), [dikaiōma], that which is deemed [dikaios] (sentence or ordinance as in 1:32; 2:26; 8:4), [dikaiōsis], the act of declaring [dikaios] (only twice in N.T., 4:25; 5:18). [Dikaiosunē] and [dikaioō] are easy to render into English, though we use justice in distinction from righteousness and sanctification for the result that comes after justification (the setting one right with God). Paul is consistent and usually clear in his use of these great words.

1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed [apokaluptetai gar orgē theou]. Note in Romans Paul’s use of [gar], now argumentative, now explanatory, now both as here. There is a parallel and antecedent revelation (see verse 17) of God’s wrath corresponding to the revelation of God’s righteousness, this an unwritten revelation, but plainly made known. [Orgē] is from [orgaō], to teem, to swell. It is the temper of God towards sin, not rage, but the wrath of reason and law (Shedd). The revelation of God’s righteousness in the gospel was necessary because of the failure of men to attain it without it, for God’s wrath justly rested upon all both Gentiles (1:18-32) and Jews (2:1-3:20). Ungodliness [asebeian]. Irreligion, want of reverence toward God, old word (cf. 2Ti 2:16). Unrighteousness [adikian]. Lack [a] privative and [dikē] of right conduct toward men, injustice (Ro 9:14; Lu 18:6). This follows naturally from irreverence. The basis of ethical conduct rests on the nature of God and our attitude toward him, otherwise the law of the jungle (cf. Nietzsche, “might makes right”). Hold down the truth [tēn alētheian katechontōn]. Truth [alētheia, alēthēs], from [a] privative and [lēthō] or [lanthanō], to conceal) is out in the open, but wicked men, so to speak, put it in a box and sit on the lid and “hold it down in unrighteousness.” Their evil deeds conceal the open truth of God from men. Cf. 2Th 2:6f. for this use of [katechō], to hinder.

1:19 Because [dioti]. Gives the reason [dia, hoti] like our “for that”) for the revelation of God’s wrath. That which may be known of God [to gnōston tou theou]. Verbal adjective from [ginōskō], either “the known” as elsewhere in N.T. (Ac 1:19; 15:18, etc.) or “the knowable” as usual in ancient Greek, that is “the knowledge” [hē gnōsis] of God. See Php 3:8. Cf. same use of the verbal [chrēston] in Ro 2:4, [ametatheton] in Heb 6:17. Manifest in them [phaneron en autois]. In their hearts and consciences. God manifested [ho theos ephanerōsen]. First aorist active indicative of [phaneroō]. Not mere tautology. See 2:14-16.

1:20 The invisible things of him [ta aorata autou]. Another verbal adjective [a] privative and [horaō], to see), old word, either unseen or invisible as here and elsewhere in N.T. (Col 1:15f., etc.). The attributes of God’s nature defined here as “his everlasting power and divinity” [hē te aidios autou dunamis kai theiotēs]. [Aidios] is for [aeidios] from [aei] (always), old word, in N.T. only here and Jude 1:6, common in Philo [zōē aidios], elsewhere [aiōnios]. [Theiotēs] is from [theios] (from [theos] quality of [theos] and corresponds more to Latin divinitas from divus, divine. In Col 2:9 Paul uses [theotēs] (Latin deitas from deus) deity, both old words and nowhere else in the N.T. [Theotēs] is Divine Personality, [theiotēs], Divine Nature and properties (Sanday and Headlam). Since the creation of the world [apo ktiseōs kosmou]. He means by God and unto God as antecedent to and superior to the world (cf. Col 1:15f. about Christ). Are clearly seen [kathoratai]. Present passive indicative of [kathoraō] (perfective use of [kata-], old word, only here in N.T., with direct reference to [aorata]. Being perceived [nooumena]. Present passive participle of [noeō], to use the [nous] (intellect). That they may be without excuse [eis to einai autous anapologētous]. More likely, “so that they are without excuse.” The use of [eis to] and the infinitive (with accusative of general reference) for result like [hōste] is reasonably clear in the N.T. (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 219; Robertson, Grammar, p. 1003). [Anapologētous] is another verbal with [an] from [apologeomai]. Old word, in N.T. only here and Ro 2:1 (“inexcusable” here).

1:21 Because that [dioti]. As in verse 19. Knowing God [gnontes ton theon]. Second aorist active participle of [ginōskō], to know by personal experience. Definite statement that originally men had some knowledge of God. No people, however degraded, have yet been found without some yearning after a god, a seeking to find the true God and get back to him as Paul said in Athens (Ac 17:27). Glorified not as God [ouch hōs theon edoxasan]. They knew more than they did. This is the reason for the condemnation of the heathen (2:12-16), the failure to do what they know. Their senseless heart [hē asunetos autōn kardia]. [Kardia] is the most comprehensive term for all our faculties whether feeling (Ro 9:2), will (1Co 4:5), intellect (Ro 10:6). It may be the home of the Holy Spirit (Ro 5:5) or of evil desires (1:24). See Mr 7:21f. for list of vices that come “out of the heart.” [Asunetos] is a verbal adjective from [suniēmi], to put together, and [a] privative, unintelligent, not able to put together the manifest evidence about God (verse 20). So darkness settled down on their hearts [eskotisthē], first aorist ingressive passive of [skotizō], to darken).

1:22 Professing themselves to be wise [phaskontes einai sophoi]. [Sophoi] is predicate nominative with [einai] in indirect discourse agreeing with [phaskontes] (old verb, from [phēmi], to say, rare in N.T.) in case and number according to regular Greek idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1038). Became vain [emataiōthēsan]. Ingressive first aorist passive indicative of [mataioō] from [mataios] (empty). Empty reasonings as often today. Became fools [emōranthēsan]. Ingressive first aorist passive of [mōrainō], to be a fool, old word from [mōros], a fool. An oxymoron or sharp saying, true and one that cuts to the bone. For the likeness of an image [en homoiōmati eikonos]. Both words, “a likeness which consists in an image or copy” (Lightfoot). See Php 2:7 for “likeness of men” and Col 1:15 for “image of God.” Paul shows indignant contempt for these grotesque efforts to present pictures of a deity that had been lost (Denney). Why is it that heathen images of gods in the form of men and beasts are so horrible to look upon?

1:24 Wherefore [dio]. Paul’s inexorable logic. See it also in verse 26 with the same verb and in verse 28 [kai] like “and so.” God gave them up [paredōken autous ho theos]. First aorist active indicative of [paradidōmi], old and common verb to hand over (beside, [para] to one’s power as in Mt 4:12. These people had already wilfully deserted God who merely left them to their own self-determination and self-destruction, part of the price of man’s moral freedom. Paul refers to this stage and state of man in Ac 17:30 by “overlooked” [huperidōn]. The withdrawal of God's restraint sent men deeper down. Three times Paul uses [paredōken] here (verses 24, 26, 28), not three stages in the giving over, but a repetition of the same withdrawal. The words sound to us like clods on the coffin as God leaves men to work their own wicked will. That their bodies should be dishonoured [tou atimazesthai ta sōmata autōn]. Contemplated result expressed by [tou] (genitive article) and the passive infinitive [atimazesthai] (from [atimos], [a] privative and [timos], dishonoured) with the accusative of general reference. Christians had a new sense of dignity for the body (1Th 4:4; 1Co 6:13). Heathenism left its stamp on the bodies of men and women.

1:25 Exchanged [metēllaxan]. First aorist active indicative of [metallassō], old word for exchanging trade, only here and verse 26 in N.T. What a bargain they made, “the truth of God for [en] the [tōi] lie.” “The price of mythology” (Bengel). Worshipped [esebasthēsan]. First aorist passive (used transitively) of [sebazomai], old verb, used in late Greek like [sebomai], to worship. Rather than the Creator [para ton ktisanta]. Placed side by side [para], the Creator and the creature, [ktisis] they preferred the creature. Who is blessed forever. Amen [hos estin eulogētos. Amēn]. One of Paul’s doxologies which may come at any moment when he is greatly stirred, as in 9:5. [Eulogētos] is verbal of [eulogeō].

1:26 Unto vile passions [eis pathē atimias]. Unto passions of dishonour. [Pathos], old word from [paschō], to experience, originally meant any feeling whether good or bad, but in N.T. always in bad sense as here, 1Th 4:5; Col 3:5 (only N.T. examples). That which is against nature [tēn para phusin]. The degradation of sex is what Paul here notes as one of the results of heathenism (the loss of God in the life of man). They passed by the Creator.

1:27 Burned [exekauthēsan]. First aorist passive indicative, causative aorist, of [ekkaiō], old verb, to burn out, to set on fire, to inflame with anger or lust. Here only in N.T. Lust [orexei]. Only here in N.T. Unseemliness [aschēmosunēn]. Old word from [aschēmon] (deformed). In N.T. only here and Re 16:15. Recompense [antimisthian]. See on 2Co 6:13 for only other N.T. instance of this late Pauline word, there in good sense, here in bad. Which was due [hēn edei]. Imperfect active for obligation still on them coming down from the past. This debt will be paid in full [apolambanontes], pay back as in Lu 6:34, and due as in Lu 23:41). Nature will attend to that in their own bodies and souls.

1:28 And even as they refused [kai kathōs ouk edokimasan]. “And even as they rejected” after trial just as [dokimazō] is used of testing coins. They tested God at first and turned aside from him. Knowledge [epignōsei]. Full knowledge [epi] additional, [gnōsis]. They had a dim memory that was a caricature. Unto a reprobate mind [eis adokimon noun]. Play on [ouk edokimasan]. They rejected God and God rejected their mental attitude and gave them over (verses 24, 26, 28). See this adjective already in 1Co 9:27; 2Co 13:5-7. Like an old abandoned building, the home of bats and snakes, left “to do those things which are not fitting” [poiein ta mē kathēkonta], like the night clubs of modern cities, the dives and dens of the underworld, without God and in the darkness of unrestrained animal impulses. This was a technical term with Stoics (II Macc. 6:4).

1:29 Being called with [peplērōmenous]. Perfect passive participle of the common verb [plēroō], state of completion, “filled to the brim with” four vices in the associative instrumental case [adikiāi], unrighteousness as in verse 18, [ponēriāi], active wickedness as in Mr 7:22, [pleonexiāi], covetousness as in 1Th 2:5; Lu 12:15, [kakiāi], maliciousness or inward viciousness of disposition as in 1Co 5:8). Note asyndeton, no connective in the lists in verses 29-31. Dramatic effect. The order of these words varies in the MSS. and [porneiāi], fornication, is not genuine here (absent in Aleph A B C). Full of [mestous]. Paul changes from participle to adjective. Old adjective, rare in the N.T., like [mestoō], to fill full (only in Ac 2:13 in N.T.), stuffed full of (with genitive). Five substantives in the genitive [phthonou], envy, as in Ga 5:21, [phonou], murder, and so a paronomasia or combination with [phthonou], of like sounding words, [eridos], strife, as in 2Co 12:16, [kakoēthias], malignity, and here only in N.T. though old word from [kakoēthēs] and that from [kakos] and [ēthos], a tendency to put a bad construction on things, depravity of heart and malicious disposition.)

1:30 Paul changes the construction again to twelve substantives and adjectives that give vivid touches to this composite photograph of the God abandoned soul. Whisperers [psithuristas]. Old word from [psithurizō], to speak into the ear, to speak secretly, an onomatopoetic word like [psithurismos] (2Co 12:20) and only here in N.T. Backbiters [katalalous]. Found nowhere else except in Hermas, compound like [katalaleō], to talk back (Jas 4:11), and [katalalia], talking back (2Co 12:20), talkers back whether secretly or openly. Hateful to God [theostugeis]. Old word from [theos] and [stugeō]. All the ancient examples take it in the passive sense and so probably here. So [stugētos] (Tit 3:13). Vulgate has deo odibiles. Insolent [hubristas]. Old word for agent from [hubrizō], to give insult to, here alone in N.T. save 1Ti 1:13. Haughty [huperēphanous]. From [huper] and [phainomai], to appear above others, arrogant in thought and conduct, “stuck up.” Boastful [alazonas]. From [alē], wandering. Empty pretenders, swaggerers, braggarts. Inventors of evil things [epheuretas kakōn]. Inventors of new forms of vice as Nero was. Tacitus (Ann. IV. ii) describes Sejanus as facinorum omnium repertor and Virgil (Aen. ii. 163) scelerum inventor. Disobedient to parents [goneusin apeitheis]. Cf. 1Ti 1:9; 2Ti 3:2. An ancient and a modern trait.

1:31 Without understanding [asunetous]. Same word in verse 21. Covenant-breakers [asunthetous]. Another paronomasia or pun. [A] privative and verbal [sunthetos] from [suntithēmi], to put together. Old word, common in LXX (Jer 3:7), men “false to their engagements” (Sanday and Headlam), who treat covenants as “a scrap of paper.” Without natural affection [astorgous]. Late word, [a] privative and [storgē], love of kindred. In N.T. only here and 2Ti 3:3. Unmerciful [aneleēmonas]. From [a] privative and [eleēmōn], merciful. Late word, only here in N.T. Some MSS. add [aspondous], implacable, from 2Ti 3:3. It is a terrible picture of the effects of sin on the lives of men and women. The late Dr. R. H. Graves of Canton, China, said that a Chinaman who got hold of this chapter declared that Paul could not have written it, but only a modern missionary who had been to China. It is drawn to the life because Paul knew Pagan Graeco-Roman civilization.

1:32 The ordinance of God [to dikaiōma tou theou]. The heathen knows that God condemns such evil practices. But also consent with them [alla kai suneudokousin]. Late verb for hearty approval as in Lu 11:48; Ac 8:1; 1Co 7:12. It is a tragedy of American city government that so many of the officials are proven to be hand in glove with the underworld of law-breakers.

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