Romans 1:1
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
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(1-7) In writing to the Romans, a Church to which he was personally unknown, and which might be supposed, so far as it was Jewish, to be prejudiced against him, the Apostle delivers with somewhat more than usual solemnity his credentials and commission. A divinely appointed minister of a system of things predicted by the prophets, and culminating in the revelation, divinely ordained and attested, of Jesus Christ, he greets the Roman Christians, themselves also divinely called. Note the repetition of terms signifying “calling,” “selection,” “determination in the counsels and providence of God;” as if to say: “I and you alike are all members of one grand scheme, which is not of human invention, but determined and ordained of God—the divine clue, as it were, running through the history of the world.” A solemn note is thus struck at the very commencement, and in what might have been regarded as the more formal part of the Epistle, by which the readers are prepared for the weighty issues that are to be set before them.

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

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

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

Romans 1:1-2. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ — Though once a bitter persecutor; called to be an apostle — And made an apostle by that calling. The Greek, κλητος αποστολος, is literally, a called apostle, or an apostle called, namely, expressly, as the other apostles were. When God calls he makes what he calls. The name apostle was sometimes given to different orders of men, Romans 16:7, but in its highest sense it was appropriated to the twelve, whom Christ appointed to be with him, Mark 3:14, and whom, after his resurrection, he sent forth to preach the gospel. As the Judaizing teachers disputed his claim to the apostolical office, it is with great propriety that he asserts it in the very entrance of an epistle wherein their principles are entirely overthrown. And various other proper and important thoughts are suggested in this short introduction: particularly the prophecies concerning the gospel; the descent of Jesus from David; the great doctrines of his Godhead and resurrection; the sending the gospel to the Gentiles; the privileges of Christians; and the obedience and holiness to which they were obliged, in virtue of their profession. Separated unto the gospel of God — Namely, to preach and propagate it. Separated by God, not only from the generality of other men, from other Jews, from other disciples, but even from other Christian teachers, to be a peculiar instrument of God in spreading the gospel. It is said, Acts 13:2, Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them. But, this being nothing but a separation of Paul from the teachers at Antioch, to go and preach to the Gentiles, the higher separation, mentioned Galatians 1:15, is here intended. The gospel is here said to be God’s, because it is good news from God, than which a greater commendation of it cannot be conceived. Which he had promised afore — Of old time, frequently and solemnly: and the promise and accomplishment confirm each other. The promise in the Scriptures, that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, is taken notice of by the apostle, to convince the unbelieving Jews that in preaching to the Gentiles he did not contradict, but fulfil the ancient revelations.

1:1-7 The doctrine of which the apostle Paul wrote, set forth the fulfilment of the promises by the prophets. It spoke of the Son of God, even Jesus the Saviour, the promised Messiah, who came from David as to his human nature, but was also declared to be the Son of God, by the Divine power which raised him from the dead. The Christian profession does not consist in a notional knowledge or a bare assent, much less in perverse disputings, but in obedience. And all those, and those only, are brought to obedience of the faith, who are effectually called of Jesus Christ. Here is, 1. The privilege of Christians; they are beloved of God, and are members of that body which is beloved. 2. The duty of Christians; to be holy, hereunto are they called, called to be saints. These the apostle saluted, by wishing them grace to sanctify their souls, and peace to comfort their hearts, as springing from the free mercy of God, the reconciled Father of all believers, and coming to them through the Lord Jesus Christ.Paul - The original name of the author of this Epistle was "Saul." Acts 7:58; Acts 7:1; Acts 8:1, etc. This was changed to Paul (see the note at Acts 13:9), and by this name he is generally known in the New Testament. The reason why he assumed this name is not certainly known. It was, however, in accordance with the custom of the times; see the note at Acts 13:9. The name Saul was Hebrew; the name Paul was Roman. In addressing a letter to the Romans, he would naturally make use of the name to which they were accustomed, and which would excite no prejudice among them. The ancient custom was to begin an epistle with the name of the writer, as Cicero to Varro, etc. We record the name at the end. It may be remarked, however, that the placing the name of the writer at the beginning of an epistle was always done, and is still, when the letter was one of authority, or when it conferred any special privileges. Thus, in the proclamation of Cyrus Ezra 1:2, "Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia," etc.; see also Ezra 4:11; Ezra 7:12. "Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest," etc. Daniel 4:1. The commencement of a letter by an apostle to a Christian church in this manner was especially proper as indicating authority.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Genuineness of the Epistle to the Romans has never been questioned. It has the unbroken testimony of all antiquity, up to Clement of Rome, the apostle's "fellow laborer in the Gospel, whose name was in the Book of Life" (Php 4:3), and who quotes from it in his undoubted Epistle to the Corinthians, written before the close of the first century. The most searching investigations of modern criticism have left it untouched.

When and Where this Epistle was written we have the means of determining with great precision, from the Epistle itself compared with the Acts of the Apostles. Up to the date of it the apostle had never been at Rome (Ro 1:11, 13, 15). He was then on the eve of visiting Jerusalem with a pecuniary contribution for its Christian poor from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia, after which his purpose was to pay a visit to Rome on his way to Spain (Ro 15:23-28). Now this contribution we know that he carried with him from Corinth, at the close of his third visit to that city, which lasted three months (Ac 20:2, 3; 24:17). On this occasion there accompanied him from Corinth certain persons whose names are given by the historian of the Acts (Ac 20:4), and four of these are expressly mentioned in our Epistle as being with the apostle when he wrote it—Timotheus, Sosipater, Gaius, and Erastus (Ro 16:21, 23). Of these four, the third, Gaius, was an inhabitant of Corinth (1Co 1:14), and the fourth, Erastus, was "chamberlain of the city" (Ro 16:23), which can hardly be supposed to be other than Corinth. Finally, Phœbebe, the bearer, as appears, of this Epistle, was a deaconess of the Church at Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth (Ro 16:1). Putting these facts together, it is impossible to resist the conviction, in which all critics agree, that Corinth was the place from which the Epistle was written, and that it was despatched about the close of the visit above mentioned, probably in the early spring of the year 58.

The Founder of this celebrated church is unknown. That it owed its origin to the apostle Peter, and that he was its first bishop, though an ancient tradition and taught in the Church of Rome as a fact not to be doubted, is refuted by the clearest evidence, and is given up even by candid Romanists. On that supposition, how are we to account for so important a circumstance being passed by in silence by the historian of the Acts, not only in the narrative of Peter's labors, but in that of Paul's approach to the metropolis, of the deputations of Roman "brethren" that came as far as Appii Forum and the Three Taverns to meet him, and of his two years' labors there (Ac 28:15, 30)? And how, consistently with his declared principle—not to build on another man's foundation (Ro 15:20)—could he express his anxious desire to come to them that he might have some fruit among them also, even as among other Gentiles (Ro 1:13), if all the while he knew that they had the apostle of the circumcision for their spiritual father? And how, if so, is there no salutation to Peter among the many in this Epistle? or, if it may be thought that he was known to be elsewhere at that particular time, how does there occur in all the Epistles which our apostle afterwards wrote from Rome not one allusion to such an origin of the church at Rome? The same considerations would seem to prove that this church owed its origin to no prominent Christian laborer; and this brings us to the much-litigated question.

For What Class of Christians was this Epistle principally designed—Jewish or Gentile? That a large number of Jews and Jewish proselytes resided at this time at Rome is known to all who are familiar with the classical and Jewish writers of that and the immediately subsequent periods; and that those of them who were at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Ac 2:10), and formed probably part of the three thousand converts of that day, would on their return to Rome carry the glad tidings with them, there can be no doubt. Nor are indications wanting that some of those embraced in the salutations of this Epistle were Christians already of long standing, if not among the earliest converts to the Christian faith. Others of them who had made the apostle's acquaintance elsewhere, and who, if not indebted to him for their first knowledge of Christ, probably owed much to his ministrations, seemed to have charged themselves with the duty of cherishing and consolidating the work of the Lord in the capital. And thus it is not improbable that up to the time of the apostle's arrival the Christian community at Rome had been dependent upon subordinate agency for the increase of its numbers, aided by occasional visits of stated preachers from the provinces; and perhaps it may be gathered from the salutations of the last chapter that it was up to that time in a less organized, though far from less flourishing state, than some other churches to whom the apostle had already addressed Epistles. Certain it is, that the apostle writes to them expressly as a Gentile Church (Ro 1:13, 15; 15:15, 16); and though it is plain that there were Jewish Christians among them, and the whole argument presupposes an intimate acquaintance on the part of his readers with the leading principles of the Old Testament, this will be sufficiently explained by supposing that the bulk of them, having before they knew the Lord been Gentile proselytes to the Jewish faith, had entered the pale of the Christian Church through the gate of the ancient economy.

It remains only to speak briefly of the Plan and Character Of this Epistle. Of all the undoubted Epistles of our apostle, this is the most elaborate, and at the same time the most glowing. It has just as much in common with a theological treatise as is consistent with the freedom and warmth of a real letter. Referring to the headings which we have prefixed to its successive sections, as best exhibiting the progress of the argument and the connection of its points, we here merely note that its first great topic is what may be termed the legal relation of man to God as a violator of His holy law, whether as merely written on the heart, as in the case of the heathen, or, as in the case of the Chosen People, as further known by external revelation; that it next treats of that legal relation as wholly reversed through believing connection with the Lord Jesus Christ; and that its third and last great topic is the new life which accompanies this change of relation, embracing at once a blessedness and a consecration to God which, rudimentally complete already, will open, in the future world, into the bliss of immediate and stainless fellowship with God. The bearing of these wonderful truths upon the condition and destiny of the Chosen People, to which the apostle next comes, though it seem but the practical application of them to his kinsmen according to the flesh, is in some respects the deepest and most difficult part of the whole Epistle, carrying us directly to the eternal springs of Grace to the guilty in the sovereign love and inscrutable purposes of God; after which, however, we are brought back to the historical platform of the visible Church, in the calling of the Gentiles, the preservation of a faithful Israelitish remnant amidst the general unbelief and fall of the nation, and the ultimate recovery of all Israel to constitute, with the Gentiles in the latter day, one catholic Church of God upon earth. The remainder of the Epistle is devoted to sundry practical topics, winding up with salutations and outpourings of heart delightfully suggestive.


Ro 1:1-17. Introduction.

1. Paul—(See on [2162]Ac 13:9).

a servant of Jesus Christ—The word here rendered "servant" means "bond-servant," or one subject to the will and wholly at the disposal of another. In this sense it is applied to the disciples of Christ at large (1Co 7:21-23), as in the Old Testament to all the people of God (Isa 66:14). But as, in addition to this, the prophets and kings of Israel were officially "the servants of the Lord" (Jos 1:1; Ps 18:1, title), the apostles call themselves, in the same official sense, "the servants of Christ" (as here, and Php 1:1; Jas 1:1; 2Pe 1:1; Jude 1), expressing such absolute subjection and devotion to the Lord Jesus as they would never have yielded to a mere creature. (See on [2163]Ro 1:7; [2164]Joh 5:22, 23).

called to be an apostle—when first he "saw the Lord"; the indispensable qualification for apostleship. (See on [2165]Ac 9:5; [2166]Ac 22:14; [2167]1Co 9:1).

separated unto the—preaching of the

gospel—neither so late as when "the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul" (Ac 13:2), nor so early as when "separated from his mother's womb" (see on [2168]Ga 1:15). He was called at one and the same time to the faith and the apostleship of Christ (Ac 26:16-18).

of God—that is, the Gospel of which God is the glorious Author. (So Ro 15:16; 1Th 2:2, 8, 9; 1Pe 4:17).Rom 1:1-7 Paul, commending to the Romans his calling, greets them,

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

see them.

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

all mankind through faith.

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

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

corruption of the Gentile world.

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

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

Two things are couched in this phrase:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(1) The first part of the epistle contains a most profitable preface down to verse six.

(2) Paul, exhorting the Romans to give diligent heed to him, in that he shows that he comes not in his own name, but as God's messenger to the Gentiles, entreats them with the weightiest matter that exists, promised long ago by God, by many good witnesses, and now at length indeed performed.

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

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

(c) Appointed by God to preach the gospel.

Romans 1:1. Παῦλος] See on Acts 13:9.

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

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

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

[276] See Weiss in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. 1857, p. 97 ff.

Romans 1:1-7.

The Apostolic salutation.

Romans 1:1-7. The usual salutation of the Apostle is expanded, as is natural in writing to persons whom he has not seen, into a description both of himself and of his Gospel. Both, so to speak, need a fuller introduction than if he had been writing to a Church he had himself founded. The central idea of the passage is that of the whole epistle, that the Gospel, as preached by Paul to the Gentiles, was not inconsistent with, but the fulfilment of, God’s promises to Israel.

Ch. Romans 1:1-7. Greeting

1. Paul] On the name, see Introduction, i. § 2.

a servant] Strictly, a bondservant. So Php 1:1; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Judges 1. For exposition of the word see Romans 6:18-19, with 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Titus 2:14 (where “a peculiar people” means “a people of possession”). The Christian is his Lord’s bondsman (1) as purchased, (2) as self-surrendered. St Paul thus describes himself before the mention of his special, apostolic, branch of bondservice. This Epistle is the earliest in which St Paul uses the word in the exordium.

of Jesus Christ] Cp. Romans 14:18; 1 Corinthians 7:22; Ephesians 6:6, &c. To St Paul the Divine Son, as truly as the Father, is his absolute Master and Possessor.—The sacred Name and Title (Jesus, Christ,) occur together in the Gospels five times, in the Acts often, in the Epistles perpetually.—It is most important to remember that Christ is merely the Greek version of the Hebrew Messiah (Anointed). As used in Scripture, it thus constantly refers back to O. T. prophecy, and to the truth (uttered by Messiah Himself, John 4:22,) that “salvation is of the Jews.”

called] At his conversion. Cp. 1 Corinthians 1:1. For the terms of the call see Acts 26:17-18. This call is distinct from the call to be a Christian, on which see Romans 1:6-7; Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 1:24.

an apostle] Lit. an envoy, missionary; in Gospels and Acts, always in the special sense of an immediate Delegate from the Saviour. In Romans 16:7, the sense is, perhaps, more extended[31]; so, too, Php 2:25 (where E. V. “messenger”). St Paul needed often to insist on the fact and rights of his apostleship. 1 Corinthians 9:1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 1:1.

[31] But see note there.

separated] For the special work of an Apostle. This was (1) in God’s sure purpose (Galatians 1:15-16; cp. Jeremiah 1:5); (2) at his conversion (Acts 9:15); (3) at Antioch (Acts 13:2; “separate me, &c.”).

the gospel of God] The Message of Good sent from God and revealing Him. So Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, &c. In a special sense it is the Gospel of Christ, in whom alone is the true revelation of God (Matthew 11:27; John 17:3).

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

[1] [The Address, or Heading.—ED.] The ancient Greeks and Romans used to put, at the beginning of their letters, those things which now, according to our mode of Subscription, come under the name of the Address and previous Salutation, and this generally very brief, as if it were to be said: Paul wishes health (sends compliments) to the Christians at Rome. But the apostle expresses those things, from a very large measure of spiritual feeling, in great exuberance of style, while he chiefly preaches Jesus Christ and His gospel, and forcibly declares his evangelical office of Apostle.—V. G.

[2] i.e., in the collected form.—ED.

[3] See Life of Bengel, see. 22.

[4] i.e., in germ.—ED.

Verse 1. - Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle. In his salutations to the Philippians and to Titus also St. Paul calls himself δοῦλος (i.e. "bondservant") of Jesus Christ; but usually only ἀπόστολος, or, as here, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος, which is rightly translated in the Authorized Version, "called to be an apostle," Divine vocation to the office being the prominent idea. St. Paul often elsewhere insists on the reality of his vocation from Christ himself to be an apostle to the Gentiles; and this with regard to disparagement of his claim to be a true apostle at all on the part of some (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 1:1, 12; Galatians 2:8). It does not follow from his thus asserting his claim here and afterwards in this Epistle that he was aware of any disparagement of it at that time among the Roman Christians; still less that he wrote his Epistle with a polemical purpose against the Judaizers, as some have supposed. Still, he may have suspected that some might possibly have been busy there, as they were in other places; and, however that might be, writing as he was to a Church not founded by, and as yet unvisited by, himself, he might think distinct assertions of his claim to be heard desirable. Separated (or, set apart) unto the gospel of God; i.e. to the preaching of the gospel, not the reception of it only, as is evident from the context. The word ἀφωρίσμενος here, as well as the previous κλητὸς, is best taken, in pursuance of the line of thought, as referring to the Divine counsels, not to the agency of the Church. It is true that the word is elsewhere used with the latter reference, as in Acts 13:2, Ἀφορίσατε δὴ μοι τόν τε Βαρνάβαν καὶ τὸν, Σαῦλον εἰς τὸ ἔργον ο} ππροσκέκλημαι αὐτούς, where the ἀφορισμὸς spoken of was subsequent to the Divine κλῆσις, and effected by human laying on of hands. But we have also St. Paul's own words (Galatians 1:15), Ὁ Θεὸς ὁ ἀφόρρισας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου καὶ καλίσας διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ, where the ἀφορισμὸς is that of God's eternal purpose, and previous to the κλῆσις (cf. Acts 9:15 and Acts 26:16, 17). Romans 1:1Superscription (Romans 1:1, Romans 1:2)

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

Paul (Παῦλος)

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

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

A servant (δοῦλος)

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

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

Called to be an apostle (κλητὸς ἀπόστολος)

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

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

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

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