Romans 1An apostle. Paul was not in fact one of the twelve apostles. The original number were appointed long before his conversion; and, as the office appears not to have been intended to be perpetual, we do not learn that any vacancies, after that occasioned by the death of Judas, were filled. Paul, however, generally assumes the title, in his writings, inasmuch as, like the apostles, he received his commission to go forth as a preacher of the gospel, directly from the Savior.—Separated; set apart, consecrated.
Of the seed of David; of the family of David.—According to the flesh; in respect to earthly parentage.
According to the Spirit of holiness. A great degree of uncertainty has been felt among commentators in respect to the precise import of the term Spirit of holiness, as used in this connection; and, in fact, also in respect to the other clauses of this verse. Some consider this expression as referring to the Holy Spirit, others to the divine Word which became flesh in the person of Jesus. (John 1:1, 14.) Others still understand it to denote those spiritual influences affused by the Savior, after his resurrection, upon the apostles, and other members of the early church. In fact, in regard to the whole verse, the best authorities among commentators express their opinions of the specific sense in which its several clauses are to be understood with great hesitation. Its general import is clear, viz., that Jesus, who, in respect to his human powers and station, was a descendant of David, was proclaimed the Son of God by divine indications of the highest and most unquestionable character.
For obedience; for promoting obedience.—For his name; in his name.
Now at length. Paul was, at this time, about proceeding to Jerusalem, intending immediately afterwards to visit Rome. (Acts 19:21.)—A prosperous journey. The journey of the apostle to Rome actually proved to be very far from a prosperous one, in the ordinary sense of the term. The passage was as unpropitious as inclement skies, stormy seas, shipwreck, and long delays, could make it. Still, in respect to the promotion of the great object which he had in view, it was perhaps the most propitious expedition ever made. Those very circumstances of exposure and suffering have given to the voyage of St. Paul, and to the moral and spiritual lessons which the history of it conveys, an importance and an influence which far surpass, undoubtedly, the highest expectations he could have formed. We ought to learn, from this case, that, after offering our prayer to God, in respect to what is to befall us, we should leave the disposal of the event entirely to him, with a quiet and contented confidence that he will do all things well.
I am debtor; that is, I am under obligations of duty.—To Greeks and Barbarians; to civilized and uncivilized; that is, to all.
As much as in me is; so far as I have power and opportunity.
To the Jew first, and also to the Greek; a mode of expression strikingly adapted to the state of feeling among those addressed, rendering, as it does, to the Jew the honor of respectful mention as the special object of divine regard, but yet placing the Gentile on an equal footing, in fact, as a partaker of the benefits of the gospel. It Is the language of truth and of conciliation combined; salvation to all that believe,—to the Jew first,—that is, specially, prominently,—but also to the Greek. While it distinctly extends to the one class all the blessings and privileges of the gospel, it does so by a form of expression which treats with respect the long-cherished feelings and prepossessions of the other.
Therein; that is, in the gospel, which was named in the beginning of the preceding verse.—The righteousness of God; righteousness in the sight of God; that is, justification, as is evident from the use of this language in Rom. 3:21-24.—From faith to faith; an expression the specific interpretation of which, in this connection, is not settled. The general idea of the passage is clear,—that in the gospel is revealed the way by which the sincere believer is justified and saved.—As it is written; Hab. 2:4.
The wrath of God; the displeasure of God.—Who hold the truth; that is, hold it back, make it of none effect.
Knew God; had the means of knowing him.
The truth of God; the truth in respect to God.—More than; rather than.
Not convenient; not right.
Whisperers; secret slanderers.
Not only do the same, but have pleasure, &c.; that is, they were not merely led, by the power of temptation, to the occasional commission of sin, but it was their deliberate and settled purpose to love and encourage iniquity. A blacker catalogue of sins and of crimes than that here recorded, could scarcely be penned; and yet all history establishes the justice of every one of these charges, as expressing the prevailing characteristics of pagan morality, in every age. The shocking details of the evidence cannot be presented to a virtuous Christian community, nor are those who are accustomed to the social influences of Christianity capable of fully realizing the truth, when the evidence is placed before them.
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