Romans 1:2
(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
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(2) Which he had promised.—More correctly, which He promised before by His prophets in holy writ. There is a nicety of meaning expressed by the absence of the article before this last phrase. A slight stress is thus thrown upon the epithet “holy.” It is not merely “in certain books which go by the name of holy scriptures,” but “in certain writings the character of which is holy.” They are “holy” as containing the promises referred to in the text, and others like them. It will thus be seen how even this faint shade of meaning works into the general argument. The writings in which the promises are contained, like the promises themselves, their fulfilment, and the consequences which follow from them, all are part of the same exceptional divine scheme.

The prophetic writings describe not only salvation, the substance of the gospel, but also the preaching of salvation, the gospel itself. (See Isaiah 40:2, “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,” and following verses; Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 52:1 et seq.; Psalm 19:4; Psalm 68:11, et al.)

Prophets.—In the wider sense in which the word is used, including not only Samuel (Acts 3:24), but also Moses and David, and all who are regarded as having prophesied the Messiah.

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.Which he had promised afore - Which gospel, or which doctrines, he had before announced.

By the prophets - The word "prophets" here is used to include those who wrote as well as those who spake. It included the teachers of the ancient Jews generally.

In the holy scriptures - In the writings of the Old Testament. They were called holy because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and were regarded as separated from all other writings, and worthy of all reverence. The apostle here declares that he was not about to advance anything new. His doctrines were in accordance with the acknowledged oracles of God. Though they might appear to be new, yet he regarded the gospel as entirely consistent with all that had been declared in the Jewish dispensation; and not only consistent, but as actually promised there. He affirms, therefore:

(1) That all this was promised, and no small part of the Epistle is employed to show this.

(2) that it was confirmed by the authority of holy and inspired men.

(3) that it depended on no vague and loose tradition, but was recorded, so that people might examine for themselves.

The reason why the apostle was so anxious to show that his doctrine coincided with the Old Testament was because the church at Rome was made up in part of Jews. He wished to show them, and the remainder of his countrymen, that the Christian religion was built on the foundation of their prophets, and their acknowledged writings. So doing, he would disarm their prejudice, and furnish a proof of the truth of religion. It was a constant position with the apostle that he advanced nothing but what was maintained by the best and holiest men of the nation. Acts 26:22-23, "saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come," etc. There was a further reason here for his appealing so much to the Old Testament. He had never been at Rome. He was therefore personally a stranger, and it was proper for him then especially to show his regard for the doctrines of the prophets. Hence, he appeals here so often to the Old Testament; and defends every point by the authority of the Bible. The particular passages of the Old Testament on which he relied will come before us in the course of the Epistle. See particularly Romans 3;4; 9; 10; 11. We may see here,

(1) The reverence which Paul showed for the Old Testament. He never undervalued it. He never regarded it as obsolete, or useless. He manifestly studied it; and never fell into the impious opinion that the Old Testament is of little value.

(2) if these things were promised - predicted in the Old Testament, then Christianity is true. Every passage which he adduces is therefore proof that it is from God.

2. Which he had promised afore … in the holy scriptures—Though the Roman Church was Gentile by nation (see on [2169]Ro 1:13), yet as it consisted mostly of proselytes to the Jewish faith (see on [2170]Introduction to this Epistle), they are here reminded that in embracing Christ they had not cast off, but only the more profoundly yielded themselves to, Moses and the prophets (Ac 13:32, 33). Which he had promised; the meaning is not, that the history of the gospel was promised by the prophets, but that Jesus Christ, with all his benefits, (which is the direct subject of the gospel history and revelation), was promised or foreshown by them.

Afore; this word is added to prevent the imputation of novelty: q.d. Let none object and say, the gospel is a new and modern doctrine; for it was promised or foretold of old, by all the prophets which have been since the world began, Luke 1:70.

By his prophets: by prophets we may understand, not only those that were commonly dignified with that title, but all those also whom God condescended to converse with in a familiar manner, revealing his secrets to them: that such are called prophets, see Genesis 20:7 Psalm 105:15.

In the holy Scriptures; to wit, of the Old Testament; he hath respect to the oracles and promises therein contained, concerning Christ and his kingdom; chiefly to Genesis 3:15 49:8,10 Deu 18:18 Psalm 16:10 Psalm 22:1-31 40:1-17 110:1 Isaiah 7:14 9:6 53:1-12 63:1-3 Daniel 9:24-26 Micah 5:2 Zechariah 9:9 Malachi 3:1, &c. He hereby intimates, that there is a great harmony and consent betwixt the prophets and apostles, the doctrine of the Old Testament and the New; see Luke 24:44 John 12:16 Acts 10:43. Our modern translators include this verse in a parenthesis; the ancients did not.

Which he had promised afore,.... The Gospel is here further commended from the antiquity it: it was no novel doctrine, an upstart notion, but what God had conceived in his own breast from eternity. This mystery was hid in him from the beginning of the world, and was ordained before the world was; in time God was pleased to make it known to the sons of men; he "promised" it, he spoke of it, and declared it

by his prophets, Isaiah and others, "afore" the Apostle Paul was called forth to be a preacher of it; which promise, or promises of it, lie

in the Holy Scriptures; the books of the Old Testament, so called from the author, matter, and usefulness of them. The apostle speaks in the language of his nation, for the Jews frequently call the Bible, writings, Holy Ones; "for", say they, , "all the Scriptures are holy" (c), and style them, , "Scriptures of holiness", or holy Scriptures (d).

(c) Misn. Yadaim, c. 3. sect. 5. (d) Misn. Parah, c. 10. sect. 3. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 116. 2.

(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
Romans 1:2. A more precise description of the character of this εὐαγγέλιον Θεοῦ, according to its concrete peculiarity, as far as Romans 1:5 inclusive, advancing and rising to a climax under the urgent sense of the sacredness of his office, which the Apostle has frankly to assert and to establish before the church of the metropolis of the world, personally as yet unknown to him.

ὃ προεπηγγείλατο κ.τ.λ[283]] How natural that the Apostle with his Old Testament training should, in the light of the New Testament revelation which he had received, first of all glance back at the connection divinely established in the history of salvation between the gospel which he served and ancient prophecy, and should see therein the sacredness of the precious gift entrusted to him! To introduce the idea of an antithetic design (“ut invidiam novitatis depelleret,” Pareus, Estius, Grotius and others, following Chrysostom and Theophylact) is quite arbitrary, looking to the general tenor of Romans 1:1-7. The news of salvation God has previously promised (προεπηγγείλατο, 2 Corinthians 9:5; Dio Cass. xlii. 32) through His prophets, not merely in so far as these, acting as the organs of God (αὐτοῦ), foretold the Messianic age, with the dawn of which the εὐαγγέλιον, as the “publicum de Christo exhibito praeconium” (Calovius), would necessarily begin, but they foretold also this praeconium itself, its future proclamation. See Romans 10:18, Romans 15:21; Isaiah 40:1 ff; Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 52:1 ff.; Zephaniah 3:9; Psalm 19:5; Psalm 68:12; Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:18. It is the less necessary therefore to refer , with Philippi and Mehring, to the contents of the gospel.

τῶν προφητῶν] is not to be limited, so as either to include merely the prophets proper in the narrower sense of the word, or to go back—according to Acts 3:24, comp Acts 13:20—only as far as Samuel. The following ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγ. suggests, on the contrary, a reference to all who in the O. T. have prophesied the gospel (even Moses, David and others not excluded); comp Hebrews 1:1.

ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις] Not: in the holy Scriptures (so most expositors, even Fritzsche), in which case the article must have been used; but qualitatively: in holy writings. The divine promises of the gospel, given through the prophets of God, are found in such books as, being God’s records for His revelations, are holy writings. Such are the prophetic writings of the O. T.; thus designated so as to lay stress on their qualitative character. In a corresponding manner is the anarthrous γραφῶν προφητικῶν to be understood in Romans 16:26.

[283] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

Romans 1:2. ὃ προεπηγγείλατο. The Gospel is not in principle a new thing, a sub-version of the true religion as it has hitherto been known to the people of God. On the contrary, God promised it before, through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. It is the fulfilment of hopes which God Himself inspired. διὰ τῶν προφητῶν does not restrict the reference to the prophets in the strict sense of the word. The O.T., as a whole, is prophetic of the New, and it is in the law (Abraham) and the Psalms (David), as much as in the prophets (Isaiah, Hosea), that Paul finds anticipations and promises of the Gospel: see chap. 4. The omission of the article with ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις (cf. Romans 16:26) is probably significant, for as against these two passages there are over forty in which αἱ γραφαὶ or ἡ γραφὴ occurs: it emphasises the Divine character of these as opposed to other writings. That is ἅγιον which belongs to God, or is connected with Him: ἅγιαι γραφαὶ is the O.T. as God’s book.

2. which he had promised afore] This verse is not properly a parenthesis. See on Romans 1:3. The Promise of the great Deliverer, running through the O. T., is one of the most wonderful of the phenomena of history. It was such that, beyond all question, it had brought the hope of Israel to an intense pitch just before, and at, the time of the birth and life of Jesus of Nazareth. See Bp E. H. Browne’s Messiah Foretold and Expected, pp. 1–21.

by his prophets] i.e., probably, by the Scripture-writers generally. In the O. T., history and prophecy are closely interwoven. In Hebrews 1:1, God’s message to “the fathers,” though “in divers manners,” is all sent “through the prophets.” The words here are nearly repeated, Romans 16:26, where the O. T. Scriptures are regarded as the great instrument, in apostolic hands, for spreading the Gospel.

in the holy scriptures] Holy, because divinely planned and guided throughout. So 2 Timothy 3:14-15. The article is wanting in the Gr. (as it is in Romans 16:26, “prophetic writings”), and the translation might thus be “in holy writings” But the article is often omitted where the thing or class spoken of is unmistakable; and the word rendered “scripture” is so completely appropriated in N. T. to the contents of the definite inspired writings, that we must translate “the holy Scriptures.”

Romans 1:2. , which). The copiousness of Paul’s style shows itself in the very inscriptions: and we must, therefore, watchfully observe the thread of the parentheses. [God promised that He would not only display His grace in the Son, but also that He would publish that very fact to the whole world. Listen to it with the most profound attention.—V. g.]—προεπηγγείλατο, promised afore) formerly, often, and solemnly. The truth of the promise, and the truth of its fulfilment, mutually confirm each other.—διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτο͂υ, by His prophets) That which the prophets of God have spoken, God has spoken, Luke 1:70; Acts 3:24.—γραφᾶις, in the Scriptures) ch. Romans 16:26. The prophets made use of the voice, as well as of writing, in the publication of their message; and the voice was likely to have greater weight in the case of a single people [the Jews], than among the countries of the whole globe: therefore, the greater weight in delivering the message, would give an advantage to the voice over writing: notwithstanding, as much respect is paid to writing, with a view to posterity, as if there had been no voice. To such an extent does Scripture prevail over tradition. [The believing Romans were, in part, originally Jews, and, in part, originally Gentiles (exjudaei, Ex-Gentiles), and Paul particularly has regard to the latter, Romans 1:13.—V. g.]

Verse 2. - Which he promised before through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning his Son. Here the parenthetical passage begins, extending to the end of ver. 6. It is unnecessary to complicate it by connecting περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ with the previous εὐαγγέλιον Θεοῦ. It goes more naturally with προεπηγγείλατο, denoting the subject of the Old Testament promises. By προφητῶν are meant not only the sacred writers distinctively so called, but (as in Hebrews 1:1) all who spoke of old under Divine inspiration, as by γραφαῖς ἁγίαις is signified the Old Testament generally. This intimation of the gospel being the fulfilment of prophecy is fitly introduced here, as preparing the reader for the argument of the Epistle, in the course of which the doctrine propounded is shown to be in accordance with the Old Testament, and in fact anticipated therein. This is, indeed, a prominent point in the general teaching of apostles and evangelists. They announce the gospel as the fulfilment of prophecy, and the true completion of all the ancient dispensation; and it is to the Old Testament that, in addressing Israelites, they ever in the first place appeal. Thus St. Peter (Acts 2:14; Acts 3:18; Acts 4:11); thus Stephen (Acts 7.); thus St. Paul at Antioch in Pisidia, at Thessalonica, and before Agrippa (Acts 13:16; Acts 17:2; Acts 26:6, 22); thus Philip to the Ethiopian proselyte (Acts 8:35); thus Apollos at Corinth (Acts 18:28). Our Lord himself had done the same, as in Matthew 5:17; Luke 4:21; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39. All this is important as showing how the old and new dispensations are regarded together as parts of a whole, the old one being but the needful preparation for a fulfilment in the new, and so becoming intelligible; and thus how "through all the ages one eternal purpose runs." There was also a providential preparation in the Gentile world, though not so direct and obvious, and though, of course, not similarly noticed in addresses to disciples of the Law. But St. Paul intimates it; as in his speech on Areopagus, and also, as will be seen, in this Epistle. Even the gospel (it may be further observed) is set forth as but a further stage of progress towards a final consummation, as the dawn only of a coming daybreak. We have still but an earnest of our inheritance; the "earnest expectation of the creature" still awaits "the manifestation of the sons of God." Meanwhile, in the revelation already made through Christ, and the redemption accomplished by him, we are taught to cling to our faith in a Divine purpose throughout the world's perplexing history - that of resolving at last all discords into eternal harmony, and making manifest "one great love, embracing all." This grand view of a providential order leading to a final consummation (though how and when we know not) pervades St. Paul's writings, and should be kept in mind for a proper understanding of this Epistle. God's promises through his prophets in Holy Scripture are said to have been "concerning his Son;" and a question hence arises as to the exact sense in which "his Son" is to be here understood; a consideration of which question may help our interpretation of the expression in the following verse, which is not without difficulty, Τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει. We may distinguish between three senses in which Christ is called "the Son of God."

(1) With reference to his Divine pre-existence, the term expressing his relation to the Father from eternity, like the Λόγος (and probably the μονογενὴς υἱὸς) of St. John.

(2) With reference to his incarnation, as being conceived by the Holy Ghost; as in Luke 1:35, Διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον α{γιον κληθήσεται υἱὸς Θεοῦ.

(3) With reference to the position assigned to the Messiah in psalm and prophecy, as the Son exalted to the right hand of God, and crowned with glory. It is with the last of these three references that the title is used in the Epistle to the Hebrews; where the ideal of sonship, found in the Old Testament, and imperfectly typified by the theoretic position of the theocratic kings, is regarded as prophetic, and pointing to Christ, in whom alone it is shown to be fulfilled. Hence in that Epistle his exaltation to the rank and dignity of Son is regarded as subsequent to his human obedience, and even the consequence and reward of it. It was "because of the suffering of death (διὰ τὸ πάθημα θανάτου)" that he has been "crowned with glory and honour" (Hebrews 2:9); it was after he had made a purification of sins that he "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high," having "inherited" that "more excellent name" - the name of Son (Hebrews 1:4). It is by no means implied that the said Epistle does not recognize a true Sonship of Christ before his exaltation; he was all along "the Son" (cf. Hebrews 5:7, Καίπερ ὤν υἱὸς ἔμαθεν, etc.), though not enthroned as such over mankind and all creation till after his resurrection; and, further, the essential doctrine of his pre-existent and eternal Sonship. in the first of the senses noted above, is distinctly taught (as in ch. 1:3), though not there by the use of the term "Son." All we say is that this word is used in the Epistle to the Hebrews to denote Christ's position and office as the royal High Priest of humanity, exalted, after suffering, to the right hand of God, rather than his original Divine Personality; such being the significance of the title in the prophetic anticipations of the Messiah. Now, this being so, and it being the promises made "through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning his Son" that are being spoken of in the passage before us, it may seem at first most probable that the idea here implied by the word "Son" is the same as in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and no more. We ought, however, to take further into account what St. Paul himself seems to signify by the term when he uses it elsewhere. It does not follow that his own conception of its significance was confined to what was apparent in "the prophets." Reading them in the light of the gospel revelation, he may have seen in their language more implied than it distinctly expressed, and himself intended to imply more. The passages in his Epistles, apart from this chapter, where Christ is called God's Son are these:

(1) Romans 5:10, "We were reconciled to God through the death of his Son;"

(2) Romans 8:3, "Sending his own Son (τὸν ἑαυτοῦ υἱὸν) in the likeness of flesh of sin;"

(3) Romans 8:29, "To be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the Firstborn among many brethren;"

(4) Romans 8:32, "Spared not his own Son (τοῦ ἰδίοῦ υἱοῦ);"

(5) 2 Corinthians 1:19, "The Son of God... was not Yea and Nay;"

(6) Galatians 4:4, 6, "God sent forth his Son," - "sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father;"

(7) Colossians 1:13, "Translates us into the kingdom of the Son of his love." In all these passages - except (3), in which the reference may be only to Christ in glory - the term "Son" denotes a relation (o the Father, peculiar to our Lord, previous to the death and exaltation, and in some of them, (2), (6), (7), previous to the Incarnation. Such previous relation is especially apparent in the sequence to (7), where "the Son of his love" is defined not only as "the Head of the body, the Church," and "the Firstborn from the dead," but also as "the Image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation; for in him all things were created, the things in heaven, and the things on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible; all things through him and unto him have been created." With this may be compared Philippians 2:6-12, where an existence ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ, anterior to incarnation, is undoubtedly declared, though the exaltation after human obedience, and the receiving then of "a name that is above every name" (cf. Hebrews 1:4), is spoken of as well. One other passage remains to be noticed, occurring, not in an Epistle, but in the sermon at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:33), where the view of Christ's Sonship which is found in the Epistle to the Hebrews (no more being expressed) appears as present to St. Paul's mind. For there God is said to have "fulfilled the promise which was made unto the fathers, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the psalm, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Here the Sonship assigned to "the Christ" in the second psalm is regarded as exhibited in the Resurrection. From this review of St. Paul's usage it may be inferred that περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ in the text before us carries with it in his own mind the idea of pre-existent eternal Sonship, though what we may call Messianic Sonship may be all he means distinctly to intimate as declared by prophets. The bearing of this distinction on the interpretation of ver. 4 will appear under it. It may be observed here that the absence of a fixed and definite usage in the application of the term "Son" to Christ, which (as has been seen) is found in the New Testament, is what might be expected there. Formal definitions of theological conceptions by means of language used uniformly in a recognized definite sense had not as yet been made. Among such conceptions that of the Holy Trinity though implied, is nowhere distinctly formulated as a dogma. It was reserved for the Church, under the guidance of the Spirit, to preclude misconception by precise dogmatic definitions. Romans 1:2Had promised afore (προεπηγγείλατο)

Only here in the New Testament. Rev., He promised afore. Paul's Old Testament training is manifest. Naturally, in beginning the more precise description of the new revelation, he refers first to its connection with ancient prophecy. The verb ἐπαγγέλλομαι; means more than to proclaim. It occurs frequently, and always in the sense of profess or promise. See Mark 14:11; Acts 7:5; 1 Timothy 2:10; 1 Timothy 6:21.


Not limited to the prophets proper, but including all who, in the Old Testament, have prophesied the Gospel - Moses, David, etc. Compare Hebrews 1:1.

In the holy scriptures (ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις)

Or, more strictly, in holy writings. The scriptures would require the article. See on John 5:47; see on John 2:22. Here again the absence of the article denotes the qualitative character of the phrase - books which are holy as conveying God's revelations. On ἅγιος holy, see on Acts 26:10. This is the only passage in which it is applied to scriptures.

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