Romans 1

Verse 44. And the rest] That could not swim: some on boards,

planks, spars, &c., got safe to land; manifestly by an especial

providence of God; for how otherwise could the sick, the aged, the

terrified, besides women and children, (of which, we may naturally

suppose, there were some,) though on planks, get safe to

shore?-where still the waves were violent, Ac 27:41, and they

without either skill or power to steer their unsafe flotillas to

the land? It was (in this case, most evidently) God who brought

them to the haven were they would be.

1. PAUL had appealed to Caesar; and he must go to Rome to have

his cause heard. God admitted of this appeal, and told his servant

that he should testify of him at Rome; and yet every thing seemed

to conspire together to prevent this appeal, and the testimony

which the apostle was to bear to the truth of the Christian

religion. The Jews laid wait for his life; and when he had escaped

out of their hands, and from their territories, then the winds and

the sea seemed to combine to effect his destruction. And God

suffered all this malice of men, and war of elements, to fight

against his servant, and yet overruled and counterworked the

whole, so as to promote his own glory, and bring honour to his

apostle. Had it not been for this malice of the Jews, Festus,

Felix, Agrippa, Berenice, and many Roman nobles and officers, had

probably never heard the Gospel of Christ. And, had it not been

for Paul's tempestuous voyage, the 276 souls that sailed with him

could not have had such displays of the power and wisdom of the

Christians' God as must have struck them with reverence, and

probably was the cause of the conversion of many. Had the voyage

been smooth and prosperous, there would have been no occasion for

such striking interferences of God; and, had it not been for the

shipwreck, probably the inhabitants of Malta would not so soon

have heard of the Christian religion. God serves his will by every

occurrence, and presses every thing into the service of his own

cause. This is a remark which we have often occasion to make, and

which is ever in place. We may leave the government of the world,

and the government of the Church, most confidently to God;

hitherto he has done all things well; and his wisdom, power,

goodness, and truth, are still the same.

2. In considering the dangers of a sea voyage, we may well say,

with pious Quesnel, To what perils do persons expose themselves,

either to raise a fortune, or to gain a livelihood! How few are

there who would expose themselves to the same for the sake of God!

They commit themselves to the mercy of the waves; they trust their

lives to a plank and to a pilot; and yet it is often with great

difficulty that they can trust themselves to the providence of

God, whose knowledge, power, and goodness, are infinite; and the

visible effects of which they have so many times experienced.

3. What assurance soever we may have of the will of God, yet we

must not forget human means. The life of all the persons in this

ship was given to St. Paul; yet he does not, on that account,

expect a visible miracle, but depends upon the blessing which God

will give to the care and endeavours of men.

4. God fulfils his promises, and conceals his almighty power,

under such means and endeavours as seem altogether human and

natural. Had the crew of this vessel neglected any means in their

own power, their death would have been the consequence of their

inaction and infidelity.





-Year of the Constantinopolitan AEra of the World, 5566.

-Year of the Alexandrian AEra of the World; 5560.

-Year of the Antiochian AEra of the World, 5550.

-Year of the Julian Period, 4768.

-Year of the Usherian AEra of the World, 4062.

-Year of the two hundred and ninth Olympiad, 2.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to the Roman account,


-Year of the AEra of the Seleucidae, 370.

-Year of the Caesarean AEra of Antioch, 106.

-Year of the Julian AEra, 103.

-Year of the Spanish AEra, 96.

-Year from the birth of Christ, 62.

-Year of the vulgar AEra of Christ's nativity, 58.

-Year of the Dionysian Period, or Easter Cycle, 59.

-Year of the Grecian Cycle of nineteen years, 2, or the first


-Year of the Jewish Cycle of nineteen years, 18.

-Year of the Solar Cycle, 11.

-Dominical Letter, A.

-Epact, or the Moon's age at the commencement of the year, 11.

-Jewish Passover, Saturday, March 25.

-Easter Sunday, March 26.

-Year after Bissextile, or Leap-year, 2.

-Year of the reign of the Emperor Nero Caesar, 5.

-Year of Claudius Felix, the Jewish Governor, 6.

-Year of the reign of Vologesus, king of the Parthians, 9.

-Year of Caius Numidius Quadratus, Governor of Syria, 8.

-High Priest of the Jews, Joseph.

-Consuls, Nero Augustus the third time, and Valerius Messala.


St. Paul shows the Romans his Divine call to the apostleship,

and for what end he was thus called, 1-6.

His salutation to the Church at Rome, and his commendation of

their faith, 7, 8.

His earnest desire to see them, that he might impart to them

some spiritual gifts, 9-15.

His description of the Gospel of Christ, 16, 17.

The crimes and profligacy of the Gentile world, which called

aloud for the judgments of God, 18-32.


DIFFERENT interpreters have divided this epistle into certain

parts or divisions, by which they suppose its subject and matter

may be the better understood. Some of these divisions have been

mentioned in the preceding preface.

The epistle contains three grand divisions.

I. The PREFACE, Ro 1:1-17.

II. The TRACTATION, or setting forth of the main subject,

including two sections: 1. Dogmatic, or what relates to doctrine.

2. Paraenetic, or what relates to the necessity and importance of

the virtues and duties of the Christian life. The dogmatic part

is included in the first eleven chapters, the grand object of

which is to show that eternal salvation cannot be procured by any

observance of the Jewish law, and can be hoped for only on the

Christian scheme; for by the works of the law no man can be

justified; but what the law could not do, in that it was weak

through the flesh, God has accomplished by sending his Son into

the world, who, becoming an offering for sin, condemned sin in the

flesh. The paraenetic part commences with Ro 12:1:

I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye

present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,

which is your reasonable service, &c.; and extends to Ro 15:14.

III. The peroration or epilogue, which contains the author's

apology for writing; his commendation of his apostolical office;

his promise to visit them; his request of an interest in their

prayers; his commendations of certain persons, and his salutations

to others. These points are contained in the succeeding parts of

the epistle, from Ro 15:14 to Ro 16:24. The 25th, 26th, and

27th verses Ro 16:25-27 of this chapter evidently belong to

another part of the epistle, and should come in, as they do in a

vast majority of the best MSS., after Ro 14:23.

For every thing necessary to a general knowledge of the epistle

itself, see the preceding preface.

The inscriptions to this epistle are various in the different

MSS. and versions. The following are the principal:-To the

Romans-The Epistle of Paul to the Romans-The Epistle of Paul the

Apostle to the Romans-The Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the

Romans. The word αγιος, holy, we have translated saint; and

thus, instead of saying the holy Paul, &c., we say Saint Paul,

&c.; and this is now brought into general use. The older the MSS.

are, the more simple the appellatives given to apostles and

apostolic men.


Verse 1. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ] The word δουλος,

which we translate servant, properly means a slave, one who is the

entire property of his master; and is used here by the apostle

with great propriety. He felt he was not his own, and that his

life and powers belonged to his heavenly owner, and that he had

no right to dispose of or employ them but in the strictest

subserviency to the will of his Lord. In this sense, and in this

spirit, he is the willing slave of Jesus Christ; and this is,

perhaps, the highest character which any soul of man can attain on

this side eternity. "I am wholly the Lord's; and wholly devoted in

the spirit of sacrificial obedience, to the constant, complete,

and energetic performance of the Divine will." A friend of God is

high; a son of God is higher; but the servant, or, in the above

sense, the slave of God, is higher than all;-in a word, he is a

person who feels he has no property in himself, and that God is

all and in all.

Called to be an apostle] The word αποστολος, apostle, from

αποστελλειν, to send, signifies simply a messenger or envoy;

one sent on a confidential errand: but here it means an

extraordinary messenger; one sent by God himself to deliver the

most important message on behalf of his Maker;-in a word, one sent

by the Divine authority to preach the Gospel to the nations. The

word κλητος, called, signifies here the same as constituted, and

should be joined with αποστολος, as it is in the Greek, and

translated thus: Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, constituted an

apostle, &c. This sense the word called has in many places of the

sacred writings; e. g. Behold what manner of love the Father hath

bestowed on us, that we should be called, κληθωμεν, CONSTITUTED,

or made the sons of God. As it is likely that no apostle had been

employed in founding the Church of Rome, and there was need of

much authority to settle the matters that were there in dispute,

it was necessary he should show them that he derived his authority

from God, and was immediately delegated by him to preach and write

as he was now doing.

Separated unto the Gospel] Set apart and appointed to this

work, and to this only; as the Israelites were separate from all

the people of the earth, to be the servants of God: see Le 20:26.

St. Paul may here refer to his former state as a Pharisee, which

literally signifies a separatist, or one separated. Before he was

separated unto the service of his own sect; now he is separated

unto the Gospel of God. On the word GOSPEL, and its meaning, see

the preface to the notes on St. Matthew; and for the meaning of

the word Pharisee, see the same Gospel, Mt 3:7.

Verse 2. Which he had promised afore] Both in the law and in

the prophets God showed his purpose to introduce into the world a

more perfect and glorious state of things; which state was to take

place by and under the influence of the Messiah, who should bring

life and immortality to light by his Gospel.

Verse 3. Concerning his Son] That is, the Gospel relates every

thing concerning the conception, birth, preaching, miracles,

passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, who

was of the seed-royal, being, as far as his humanity was

considered, the son of David, and then the only rightful heir to

the Israelitish throne.

Verse 4. And declared to be the Son of God]

See Clarke on Ac 13:33,

where this subject is considered at large. The word

ορισθεντος, which we render declared, comes from οριζω, to

bound, define, determine, or limit, and hence our word horizon,

the line that determines the farthest visible part of the earth,

in reference to the heavens. In this place the word signifies such

a manifest and complete exhibition of the subject as to render it

indubitable. The resurrection of Christ from the dead was such a

manifest proof of our Lord's innocence, the truth of his doctrine,

and the fulfilment of all that the prophets had spoken, as to

leave no doubt on any considerate and candid mind.

With power] ενδυναμει, With a miraculous display of Divine

energy; for, how could his body be raised again, but by the

miraculous energy of God? Some apply the word here to the proof

of Christ's sonship; as if it were said that he was most

manifestly declared to be the Son of God, with such powerful

evidence and argument as to render the truth irresistible.

According to the spirit of holiness] There are many differences

of sentiment relative to the meaning of this phrase in this place;

some supposing that the spirit of holiness implies the Divine

nature of Jesus Christ; others, his immaculate sanctity, &c. To me

it seems that the apostle simply means that the person called

Jesus, lately crucified at Jerusalem, and in whose name salvation

was preached to the world, was the Son of God, the very Messiah

promised before in the holy Scriptures; and that he was this

Messiah was amply demonstrated. 1st, By his resurrection from the

dead, the irrefragable proof of his purity, innocence, and the

Divine approbation; for, had he been a malefactor, as the Jews

pretended, the miraculous power of God would not have been exerted

in raising his body from the dead. 2d, He vas proved to be the Son

of God, the promised Messiah, by the Holy Spirit, (called here the

spirit of holiness,) which he sent down upon his apostles, and not

on them only, but on all that believed on his name; by whose

influence multitudes were convinced of sin, righteousness, and

judgment, and multitudes sanctified unto God; and it was by the

peculiar unction of this spirit of holiness, that the apostles

gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, Ac 4:33.

Thus, then, Christ was proved to be the true Messiah, the son of

David according to the flesh, having the sole right to the throne

of Israel; and God recognized this character, and this right, by

his resurrection from the dead, and sending forth the various

gifts and graces of the Spirit of holiness in his name.

Verse 5. Grace and apostleship] The peculiar influence and the

essential qualifications which such an office requires. Without

the GRACE, favour, and peculiar help of God, he could not have

been an apostle: he had an extraordinary conversion, and an

extraordinary call to preach the Gospel. Probably χαρινκαι

αποστολην, grace and apostleship, mean the same as χαριντης

αποστολης, the apostolical office; for so the word χαρις means in

Ro 12:3; 15:15; 1Co 3:10; Eph 3:8. See the various

acceptations of the word grace, Ro 1:7.

For obedience to the faith] That by this office, which I have

received from God, and the power by which it is accompanied, I

might proclaim the faith, the Gospel of Jesus; and show all

nations the necessity of believing in it, in order to their

salvation. Here is: 1. The Gospel of the Son of God. 2. An

apostle divinely commissioned and empowered to preach it. 3. The

necessity of faith in the name of Jesus, as the only Saviour of

the world. 4. Of obedience, as the necessary consequence of

genuine faith. And, 5. This is to be proclaimed among all

nations; that all might have the opportunity of believing and

being saved.

Verse 6. Ye are the called] Ye Romans are all invited to

believe in Christ Jesus, for the salvation of your souls; and to

you, with the rest, my apostolical mission extends. This appears

to be the most obvious sense of the word called in this place-to

be called by the Gospel is to be invited to believe in Christ

Jesus, and become his disciples. The word sometimes means

constituted, or made, as in Ro 1:1.

Verse 7. Called to be saints] Invited to become holy persons,

by believing the Gospel and receiving the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Or, here, the word may have the meaning of made or constituted, as

above; κλητοιςαγιοις, to all that be in Rome, CONSTITUTED saints,

for they had already received the Gospel grace, and were formed

into a Christian Church.

Grace to you] χαριςυμιν; May you be partakers of the Divine

favour, the source whence every blessing is derived.

I think it necessary, once for all, to give the several

acceptations of this word grace which occur in the sacred


1. The word χαριν signifies in general favour or benevolence,

but especially that favour which is powerful and active, and

loads its objects with benefits. Lu 1:30:

Fear not, Mary, thou hast found FAVOUR, χαριν, with God.

Lu 2:40:

And the child grew-and the GRACE of God, χαριςθεου, the favour

of God was upon him. Lu 1:52:

And Jesus increased in FAVOUR, χαριτι GRACE, with God and man.

Ac 2:47:

Having FAVOUR, χαριν, GRACE, with all the people. Ac 4:33:

And great GRACE, χαρις, FAVOUR, was upon them all. The apostles

were at that time in universal favour with the multitude. In this

sense the word occurs in a great variety of places, both in the

Old and New Testaments.

2. Hence it is often used for the blessing which it dispenses;

for, if God be favourably disposed towards a person, his

beneficent acts, in that person's behalf, will be a necessary

consequence of such favour. Joh 1:14:

Full of GRACE and truth; accomplished in all spiritual blessings.

Joh 1:16:

And GRACE upon GRACE: he who is full of the most excellent

blessings, confers them liberally on all believers. Ac 11:23:

When he had seen the GRACE of God, i.e. had the fullest evidence

that they were richly endowed with heavenly gifts. 1Co 1:4:

For the GRACE of God which is given you-the Divine blessings

conferred upon you. 2Co 9:8:

God is able to make all GRACE abound toward you; i.e. to enrich

you with every benediction. This is also a very common acceptation

of the word; and in this sense the word grace or favour is now

generally understood among religious people. The grace of God

meaning with them some Divine or spiritual blessing communicated.

3. It is sometimes taken for the whole of the Christian

religion, as being the grandest possible display of God's favour

to a lost, ruined world: and in this sense it appears to be used,

Joh 1:17:

For the LAW was given by Moses; but GRACE and truth came by Jesus

Christ: where the term GRACE is evidently opposed to LAW; the

latter meaning the Mosaic, the other the Christian, dispensation.

Ac 13:43:

Barnabas persuaded them to continue in the GRACE of God; i.e. to

hold fast their profession of the religion of Christ. Ro 6:14:

Ye are not under the LAW, but under GRACE-ye are no longer under

obligation to fulfil the Mosaic precepts, but are under the

Christian dispensation. See also Ro 6:15; and see

2Co 1:12; 6:1; Ga 1:6; Col 1:6; 2Ti 2:1, Tit 2:11:

The GRACE of God, that bringeth salvation unto all men,

hath appeared. The Jewish religion was restricted in its benefits

to a few; but the Christian religion proposes the salvation of all

men; and the author of it has become a sacrifice for the sins of

the whole world. Heb 12:15:

Looking diligently lest any man fall from the GRACE of God-lest

any man apostatize from the Christian religion, and the blessings

of pardon and holiness which he has received through it.

1Pe 5:12:

This is the true GRACE of God wherein ye stand-the Christian

religion which ye have received is the genuine religion of God.

4. It signifies all the blessings and benefits which Christ has

purchased, and which he gives to true believers, both in time and

eternity. See Ro 5:15, 17,

where the grace of God is opposed to death; i.e. to all the

wretchedness and misery brought into the world by Adam's

transgression. 1Co 16:23:

The GRACE of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all-May every

blessing purchased by Christ's passion and death be the portion of

you all. Ga 5:4:

Ye are fallen from GRACE-ye have lost the blessings of the Gospel

by submitting to circumcision.

5. It signifies the apostolic and ministerial office, or the

authority to propagate the Christian religion, and the unction or

influence by which that office is executed; so in the 5th verse of

this chapter, Ro 1:5 as has been already noted:

By whom we have received GRACE and apostleship, or, the apostolic

office. Ro 13:3:

I say, through the GRACE given unto me; i.e. I command you, by

the authority of my apostolic office, &c. See also Ro 13:6.

6. It signifies a gift, salary, or money collected for the use

of the poor. 1Co 16:3:

Whomsoever ye shall approve-them will I send to bring your

LIBERALITY, τηνχαρινυμων, your GRACE; i.e. the collection made

for the poor saints: see 1Co 16:1. 2Co 8:4:

Praying us-that we would receive the GIFT, τηνχαριν, the GRACE,

the contribution made in the Churches of Macedonia, for the relief

of the poor. In this sense it is used in Ecclus. xvii. 22: He will

keep the GOOD DEEDS of man, χαριν, the same as ελεημοσυνη,

alms, in the beginning of the verse; and it signifies a kind or

friendly act, in the same author. Ecclus. xxix. 16: Forget not

the FRIENDSHIP, χαριτας, of thy surety. GRACES or χαρις,

was a deity among the ancients; and the three GRACES, αιτρεις

χαριτες, were called Pitho, Aglaia, and Euphrosyne; πειθω,

mild persuasion; αγλαια, dignity; ευφροσυνη, liberality

and joyfulness; and these were always painted naked, to show that

all benefits should be gratuitous, this being essential to the

nature of a gift. See Suidas, in χαριτας.

7. It sometimes signifies merely thanks or thanksgiving. See

Lu 17:9:

Doth he thank, μηχαρινεχει, that servant? Ro 6:17:

But God be THANKED, χαριςοετωθεω. 1Co 10:30:

For if I by GRACE, χαριτι, THANKSGIVING, as our margin has it,

and properly.

8. It signifies remuneration, wages, or reward Lu 6:32-34:

If ye love them that love you-do good to them which do good to

you-lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what THANK have ye?

ποιαυμινχαριςεστι; what REWARD have ye? This appears, from

the parallel place, Mt 5:46, to be most evidently the meaning:

τιναμισθονεχετε; what REWARD have ye? The word is used in

this sense by several Greek writers.

9. It signifies whatever is the means of procuring the favour

or kindness of another. 1Pe 2:19, 20:

For this is THANKWORTHY, τουτογαρχαριςπαρατωθεω, this is the

means of PROCURING FAVOUR from God.

10. It signifies joy, pleasure, and gratification, which is

the, meaning of χαρα, and with which it is often confounded in the

New Testament. Phm 1:7:

For we have great JOY, χαρινγαρεχομενπολλην. Tobit vii. 18:

The Lord give thee JOY, χαριν, for this thy sorrow. In this

sense the word is used by the best Greek writers; and in this

sense it appears to be used, 2Co 1:15.

11. It signifies the performance of an act which is pleasing or

grateful to others. Ac 24:27:

Felix, willing to show the Jews a PLEASURE, χαριταςκαταθεσθαι, to

perform an act which he knew would be highly gratifying to them.

12. It signifies whatever has the power or influence to procure

favour, &c. Suavity, kindness, benevolence, gentle demeanour.

Lu 4:22:

All wondered at the GRACIOUS WORDS, τοιςλογοιςτηςχαριτος,

the benevolent, kind, and tender expressions; such as his text,

Lu 4:18,

would naturally lead him to speak. He hath anointed me to preach

the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the

broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, &c.

Eph 4:29; Col 4:6:

Let your speech be always with GRACE; i.e. gracious, kind,

benevolent, savouring of the doctrine of Christ: it is thus used

by several Greek writers. See Schleusner. As the word χαρις

GRACE, most frequently signifies some blessing or benefit

calculated to promote human happiness, it is generally derived

from χαρω, I rejoice, because of the effect produced by the


And peace] ειρηνη, the same as shalom in Hebrew,

generally signifying all kinds of blessing, but especially harmony

and unity, and the bond of such unity. The most probable

derivation of the word ειρηνη is from ειρω, I bind, and εν,

one-because peace unites and binds those who were, by discord,

before disunited. In the New Testament it signifies-1. Peace,

public or private, in the general acceptation of the word, as

implying reconciliation and friendship; and to the etymology of

the word the apostle seems to allude in Eph 4:3:

Endeavouring to keep the UNITY of the Spirit in the BOND of

PEACE. Ac 12:20:

They of Tyre and Sidon desired PEACE-they sought reconciliation,

with Herod, by means of Blastus, the king's chamberlain.

2. It signifies regularity, good order. 1Co 14:33:

God is not the God of confusion, but of PEACE.

3. It signifies the labour or study of preserving peace and

concord; and this is supposed to be its meaning, Mt 10:34;

Lu 12:51; and Ac 7:26. Ro 14:17:

For the kingdom of God is righteousness and PEACE-the Christian

dispensation admits of no contention, but inculcates peace.

1Co 7:15:

God hath called us to PEACE-to labour to preserve quietness and

concord. Heb 12:14:

Follow PEACE-labour to preserve it.

4. It signifies the author or procurer of peace and concord.

Eph 2:14:

He is our PEACE-the author of concord betwixt Jews and Gentiles.

5. It signifies the Gospel and its blessings. Eph 2:17:

And came and preached PEACE to you which were afar off, and to

them that were nigh.

6. It signifies all kinds of mental and corporeal happiness,

and especially the happiness of Christians. Lu 1:79:

To guide our feet into the way of PEACE-to show us the way to

obtain true happiness. Lu 19:42:

The things which belong unto thy PEACE-that by which thou

mightest have been made truly happy. 1Th 5:23:

The very God of PEACE-God, the only source of true felicity.

Joh 16:33:

These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have

PEACE-that ye might have confidence and happiness in believing on

me as your only Saviour.

7. It signifies good wishes and affectionate prayers.

Mt 10:13:

And if the house be worthy, let your PEACE come upon it.

Our Lord commands his disciples, Mt 10:12,

to salute the house into which they entered; and this was done by

saying, Peace be unto this house! that is, Let every blessing,

spiritual and temporal, be the portion of this family!

See Lu 10:6; Joh 14:27; Ac 15:33:

They were let go in PEACE-they had the most fervent and

affectionate prayers of the Church.

8. It signifies praise. Lu 19:38:

PEACE in heaven and glory in the highest!-May all the heavenly

host praise God, and give him the highest honour!

9. It signifies benignity, benevolence, favour. Ro 5:1:

Being justified by faith, we have PEACE with God-In consequence

of having our sins forgiven, we have a clear sense of the Divine

favour. Php 4:7:

The PEACE of God which passeth all understanding-the inexpressible

blessedness of a sense of the Divine favour. See Schleusner's


From God our Father] The apostle wishes them all the blessings

which can flow from GOD, as the fountain of grace, producing in

them all the happiness which a heart filled with the peace of God

can possess; all of which are to be communicated to them through

the Lord Jesus Christ. See Clarke on Ac 28:31.

Verse 8. First, I thank my God] From this to the end of Ro 1:17

belongs to the preface, in which the apostle endeavours to

conciliate the good opinion of the Christians at Rome, and to

prepare their minds for his reproofs and exhortations.

Your faith is spoken] καταγγελλεται, is celebrated, throughout

the whole world-in every place where the Christian religion is

professed, through all parts of the Roman dominions; for in this

sense we should understand the words, the whole world.

Verse 9. Whom I serve with my spirit] λατπευω Whom I worship

with the profoundest religious reverence; for so the original

certainly means: I not only employ all the powers of my body in

this service, but all those of my soul; being thoroughly convinced

of the absolute truth of the religion I preach. Probably St. Paul

opposes, in this place, the spiritual worship of the Gospel to the

external, or what some call the carnal, worship of the Jews. Mine

is not a religion of ceremonies, but one in which the life and

power of the eternal Spirit are acknowledged and experienced.

Verse 10. Making request, &c.] By this we see how earnestly the

apostle longed to see Rome. It had long been a subject of

continual prayer to God, that he might have a prosperous journey

to, or rather meeting with, them, for so we should understand the

word ευοδωθησμαι: that he had a prosperous meeting with them we

cannot doubt; that he had a disastrous journey to them the 27th of

the Acts fully proves.

Verse 11. Some spiritual gift] This probably means some of the

extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit, which, being given to

them, might tend greatly to establish their faith in the Gospel of

Christ; and it is very likely that such gifts were only conferred

by means of apostles; and as the apostle had not yet been at Rome,

consequently the Roman Christians had not yet received any of

these miraculous gifts, and thus they differed widely from all the

other Churches which had been raised by the apostle's ministry.

Verse 12. That I may be comforted together with you] He here,

with great address, intimates that he longs for this opportunity,

as well on his own account as on theirs, and to show them that he

arrogates nothing to himself; for he intimates that it will

require the conjoint action of their faith as well as his own, to

be the means of receiving those blessings from God to which he


Verse 13. But was let hitherto] The word let, from the

Anglo-Saxon, [Anglo-Saxon] to hinder, signifies impediment or

hinderance of any kind: but it is likely that the original word,

εκωλυθην, I was forbidden, refers to a Divine prohibition:-he

would have visited them long before, but God did not see right to

permit him.

Verse 14. I am a debtor both to the Greeks, and to the

barbarians] It has been remarked before that all the nations of

the earth, themselves excepted, were termed barbarians by the

Greeks. See the origin of the word barbarous in the note on

Ac 28:2. The apostle considers himself, by his apostolical

office and call, under obligation to preach the Gospel to all

people, as far as the providence of God might open his way; for

this is implied in the Divine commission:-Go ye into all the

world, and preach the Gospel to every creature-to the wise and the

unwise; to the learned and cultivated as well as to the

unlearned and uncultivated. This evidently appears to be the

import of the terms.

Verse 15. I am ready to preach] προθυμον; I have a ready

mind. I was only prevented by the providence of God from visiting

you long ago. His time is best: in the mean time I write, by his

direction, to comfort and instruct you.

Verse 16. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ] This text

is best illustrated by Isa 28:16; 49:23, quoted by the apostle,

Ro 10:11:

For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him, shall not be

ashamed; i.e. they shall neither be confounded, nor disappointed

of their hope. The Jews, by not believing on Jesus Christ, by not

receiving him as the promised Messiah, but trusting in others,

have been disappointed, ashamed, and confounded, from that time to

the present day. Their expectation is cut off; and, while

rejecting Christ, and expecting another Messiah, they have

continued under the displeasure of God, and are ashamed of their

confidence. On the other hand, those who have believed on Christ

have, in and through him, all the blessings of which the prophets

spoke; every promise of God being yea and amen through him. Paul,

as a Jew, believed on Christ Jesus; and in believing he had life

through his name; through him he enjoyed an abundance of grace; so

that, being filled with that happiness which an indwelling Christ

produces, he could cheerfully say, I am not ashamed of the Gospel

of Christ. And why? Because he felt it to be the power of God to

the salvation of his believing soul. This appears to be the true

sense of this passage, and this interpretation acquires additional

strength from the consideration that St. Paul is here most

evidently addressing himself to the Jews.

It is the power of God unto salvation] δυναμιςγαρθεουεστιν:

The almighty power of God accompanies this preaching to the souls

of them that believe; and the consequence is, they are saved; and

what but the power of God can save a fallen, sinful soul?

To the Jew first] Not only the Jews have the first offer of

this Gospel, but they have the greatest need of it; being so

deeply fallen, and having sinned against such glorious privileges,

they are much more culpable than the Gentiles, who never had the

light of a Divine revelation.

And also to the Greek] Though the salvation of God has hitherto

been apparently confined to the Jewish people, yet it shall be so

no longer, for the Gospel of Christ is sent to the Gentiles as

well as the Jews; God having put no difference between them; and

Jesus Christ having tasted death for EVERY man.

Verse 17. For therein] In the Gospel of Christ.

Is the righteousness of God] God's method of saving sinners.

Revealed from faith to faith] Shown to be by faith, and not by

the works of any law; for Abraham, the father and founder of the

Jewish people, was justified by faith, before even the law was

given; and by believing, in reference to the spiritual object held

forth in the various ordinances of the law, and now revealed under

the Gospel, he and all his believing descendants have been

justified. And thus the faith of the old covenant led on to the

faith of the new covenant, which shows that salvation has been by

faith from the call of Abraham to the present time. And, from the

beginning, all that were just or righteous in the earth became

such by faith, and by this principle alone they were enabled to

persevere; as it is written, The just shall live by faith. That

δικαιοσυνη, which we translate righteousness in this verse,

signifies God's method of saving mankind by faith in Christ, is

fully evident from the use of the term in Ro 9:30:

The Gentiles which followed not after RIGHTEOUSNESS-who had no

knowledge by revelation, of God's method of justifying and saving

sinners, have attained to RIGHTEOUSNESS-have had imparted to them

God's method of salvation by faith in Christ. Ro 9:31:

But Israel, the Jews, which followed after the law of

righteousness-that law, the end or object of which is CHRIST, and

through him justification to all that believe (Ro 10:4,)

have not attained to the law of righteousness-have not found out

the genuine plan of salvation, even in that law which so strongly

and generally proclaims justification by faith. And why have they

not found it? Ro 9:32:

Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works

of the law-they did not discern that even its works or prescribed

religious observances were intended to lead to faith in that

glorious Mediator of whom they were the types and representatives;

but the Jews trusted in the observances themselves, hoping to

acquire justification and final salvation by that means. For

they stumbled at the stumbling-stone-at the doctrine of Christ

crucified as the only sure ground on which the expectation of

future salvation can be founded. Therefore, being ignorant of

God's righteousness-God's method of saving sinners, and going

about to establish their own righteousness-their own method of

salvation, by the observance of those rites and ceremonies which

should have led them by faith to Christ, they did not submit

themselves to the righteousness of God-they would not submit to be

saved in God's way, and therefore rejected, persecuted, and

crucified the Lord Jesus; see Ro 10:3. This collation of

passages most evidently shows that the word righteousness here

means simply God's method of saving sinners, or God's way of

salvation, in opposition to the ways and means invented by the

fancies or prejudices of men.

There are few words in the sacred writings which are taken in a

greater variety of acceptations than the word tsedakah in

Hebrew, and δικαιοσυνη in Greek, both of which we generally

translate righteousness. Our English word was originally

rightwiseness, from the Anglo-Saxon, [Anglo-Saxon], justice,

right, and [Anglo-Saxon], to know; and thus the righteous man was

a person who was allowed to understand the claims of justice and

right, and who, knowing them, acted according to their dictates.

Such a man is thoroughly wise; he aims at the attainment of the

best end by the use of the best means. This is a true definition

of wisdom, and the righteous man is he that knows most and acts

best. The Hebrew tsadak, in its ideal meaning, contains the

notion of a beam or scales in equipoise, what we call even

balance; and it is well known that in all the personifications of

Justice, both ancient and modern, she is represented as a

beautiful female with a bandage on her eyes, and a beam and scales

in her hand, so perfectly poised that neither end preponderates.

The Greek word δικαιοσυνη has been derived from διχαζω, to

divide; and hence δικη, justice, because it is the property of

this virtue to divide to each his due. With other etymologies it

is useless to trouble the reader. Both the noun δικαιοσυνη and the

verb δικαιοω have a great variety of meaning in the New Testament;

but they are all reducible to this original idea, acting according

to the requisitions of justice or right. It may not be improper to

notice some of the chief of these acceptations in this place.

1. The act of distributing to each man his due is the sense of

the word, Ac 17:31:

He will judge the world in RIGHTEOUSNESS, i.e. according to the

principles of eternal justice and rectitude. See also Re 19:2:

In RIGHTEOUSNESS doth he judge and make war.

2. It signifies a holy life, as proceeding from piety towards

God. Lu 1:75:

Might serve him in holiness and RIGHTEOUSNESS all the days of our


3. It signifies benignity, liberality, and particularly

almsgiving, as justice and righteousness require us, being only

stewards of God's bounty, to share it with the necessitous.

Mt 6:1:

Take heed that ye do not your ALMS, δικαιοσυνην, your

RIGHTEOUSNESS, before men. Ro 3:5:

But if our unrighteousness commend the RIGHTEOUSNESS, the

benignity of God. 2Co 9:10:

Increase the fruits of your RIGHTEOUSNESS, i.e. of your


4. It signifies God's method of saving sinners; the way which is

agreeable to his righteousness and liberality. See the former

part of this note, and the scriptures there referred to.

5. It signifies the reward or issue of liberality.

2Co 9:9:

He hath scattered abroad; he hath given to the poor; his

RIGHTEOUSNESS-the reward of his bounty, remaineth for ever.

See Ps 112:9.

6. It signifies the whole collection of graces, which

constitute the complete Christian character. Mt 5:6:

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after RIGHTEOUSNESS-they

who ardently long for the full salvation of God. Mt 5:10, 20:

If your RIGHTEOUSNESS exceed not the righteousness, &c. Mt 6:33:

Seek the kingdom of God and his RIGHTEOUSNESS.

7. It signifies the result of faith in God and submission to

his will, exemplified in a holy and useful life. Heb 11:7:

By faith Noah prepared an ark, and became heir of the

RIGHTEOUSNESS which is by faith-he escaped the deluge and became

the instrument of repeopling the world.

8. It signifies an exact observance of religious ordinances and

precepts. Php 3:6:

Touching the RIGHTEOUSNESS which is of the law, blameless-having

lived in an exact conformity to all the Mosaic precepts. In this

sense it is to be understood, Mt 3:15:

Thus it becomes us to fulfil all RIGHTEOUSNESS-to observe every

precept of the law.

9. It signifies the favour or pardoning mercy of God. Ro 4:6:

The blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth RIGHTEOUSNESS-

-without works-the man is happy to whom God has granted the

remission of sins, without respect to his observance of the law of


10. In 2Co 5:21,

δικαιοσυνη, righteousness, is put for δικαιος, righteous:

That we might become the righteousness of God-that we might

receive such a righteousness or holiness, such a salvation, as is

worthy of God's grace to impart, and such as the necessities of

mankind require.

A few of the leading acceptations of the verb δικαιοω, which we

translate to justify, may be here properly subjoined, as this verb

is so repeatedly used in this epistle.

1. It signifies so declare or pronounce one just or

righteous; or, in other words, to declare him to be what he really

is. 1Ti 3:16:

He was JUSTIFIED in the Spirit.-By the almighty power of the

Spirit he was proved to be the TRUE MESSIAH.

2. To esteem a thing properly. Mt 11:19:

Wisdom is JUSTIFIED of her children.-Wisdom, propriety of conduct,

is properly estimated by wise men.

3. It signifies to approve, praise, and commend. The publicans

JUSTIFIED God, Lu 7:29;

praised him for calling them to such a state of salvation.

Lu 16:15:

Ye are they which JUSTIFY yourselves before men-Ye are

self-commended, self-applauded, and self-praised. In this sense

it is often used in the Greek apocryphal books. Ecclus. vii. 5:

JUSTlFY not thyself before the Lord-Do not applaud thyself in the

presence of thy-Maker. Ib. x. 29: Who will JUSTIFY (praise or

applaud) him that sinneth against his own soul. Ib. xviii. 2:

The Lord only is righteous, δικαιωθησεται, shall be JUSTIFIED,

i.e. praised, because there is none other but he.

4. The verb δικαιοομαι is used to clear from all sin. 1Co 4:4:

For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby JUSTIFIED-A

man's own consciousness of integrity is not a proof that he is

clear from all sin in the sight of God.

5. A judge is said to justify not only when he condemns and

punishes, but also when he defends the cause of the innocent. See

EURIP. Heraclid. ver. 190. THUCYD. iii. p. 200. POLYB. iii. 31,

and SCHLEUSNER on δικαιοω. Hence δικαιουσθαι is taken in a

forensic sense, and signifies to be found or declared righteous,

innocent, &c. Mt 12:37:

By thy words shalt thou be JUSTIFIED-thou shalt be declared to be

righteous. Ro 3:4:

That thou mightest be JUSTIFIED in thy saying-that thou mightest

be proved to be true in what thou hast said.

6. It signifies to set free, to escape from. Ac 13:39:

And by him all that believe are JUSTIFIED from all things, from

which ye could not be JUSTIFIED by the law-by faith in Christ a

man escapes those evils which, otherwise, the law of Moses would

inflict upon him. Ro 6:7:

For he that is dead, δεδικαιωται, is JUSTIFIED, properly rendered

by our translators, is FREED from sin.

7. It signifies also to receive one into favour, to pardon sin.

Ro 8:30:

Whom he called, them he also JUSTIFIED-he received them into

favour and pardoned their sins. Lu 18:14:

This man went down to his house JUSTIFIED-he humbled himself,

repented of his iniquity, and God forgave his sin. Ro 3:20:

By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be JUSTIFIED-no soul

can have his sins forgiven through the observance of the Mosaic

law. Ro 4:2:

If Abraham were JUSTIFIED (had his sin pardoned) by works.

1Co 6:11:

Such were some of you, but ye are JUSTIFIED-ye are received into

the Divine favour, and have your sins forgiven.

See Jas 2:21-25; Ro 3:24, 28; 5:1, 9;

Ga 2:16, 17; 3:11, 24; 5:4; Tit 3:7.

In all these texts the word justify is taken in the sense of

remission of sins through faith in Christ Jesus; and does not mean

making the person just or righteous, but treating him as if he

were so, having already forgiven him his sins.

The just shall live by faith.] This has been understood two

ways: 1. That the just or righteous man cannot live a holy and

useful life without exercising continual faith in our Lord Jesus:

which is strictly true; for He only who has brought him into that

state of salvation can preserve him in it; and he stands by faith.

2. It is contended by some able critics that the words of the

original text should be pointed thus: οδεδικαιοςεκπιστεως

ζησεται. The just by faith, shall live; that is, he alone that is

justified by faith shall be saved: which is also true; as it is

impossible to get salvation in any other way. This last meaning is

probably the true one, as the original text in Hab 2:4, speaks of

those who believed the declarations of God when the Chaldeans

besieged Jerusalem, and, having acted conformably to them, escaped

with their lives.

Verse 18. For the wrath of God is revealed] The apostle has now

finished his preface, and comes to the grand subject of the

epistle; namely, to show the absolute need of the Gospel of

Christ, because of the universal corruption of mankind; which was

so great as to incense the justice of God, and call aloud for the

punishment of the world. 1. He shows that all the heathen nations

were utterly corrupt, and deserved this threatened punishment. And

this is the subject of the first chapter, from verse 18 to the

end. Ro 1:18-32

2. He shows that the Jews, notwithstanding the greatness of their

privileges, were no better than the Gentiles; and therefore the

wrath of God was revealed against them also. This subject he

treats in Ro 2:1-29 and Ro 3:1-19. 3. He returns, as it were,

on both, Ro 3:20-31, and proves that, as the Jews and Gentiles

were equally corrupt, they could not be saved by the deeds of any

law; that they stood equally in need of that salvation which God

had provided; that both were equally entitled to that salvation,

for God was the God of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews.

By οργηθεου, the wrath of God, we are not to understand any

uneasy passion in the Divine Being; but the displeasure of his

righteousness, which is expressed by the punishments inflicted on

the ungodly, those who retain not God in their knowledge; and the

unrighteous, those whose lives are profligate.

As, in the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed for the

salvation of the ungodly, so is the wrath of God revealed against

the workers of iniquity. Those who refuse to be saved in the way

revealed by his mercy must be consumed in the way revealed by his


Ungodliness] ασεβειαν,, from α, negative, and σεβω or

σεβομαι, I worship, probably intended here to express atheism,

polytheism, and idolatry of every kind.

Unrighteousness] αδικιαν from α, negative, and δικη,

justice; every thing contrary to strict morality; all viciousness

and profligacy of conduct.

Who hold the truth in unrighteousness] In what sense could it

be said that the heathen held the truth in unrighteousness, when

they really had not that truth? Some think this refers to the

conduct of their best philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato,

Seneca, &c., who knew much more of the Divine nature than they

thought safe or prudent to discover; and who acted in many things

contrary to the light which they enjoyed. Others think this to be

spoken of the Gentiles in general, who either did know, or might

have known, much of God from the works of creation, as the apostle

intimates in the following verses. But Rosenmuller and some others

contend that the word κατεχειν here does not signify to hold, but

to hinder; and that the place should be translated, who through

maliciousness hinder the truth; i.e. prevent it from taking hold

of their hearts, and from governing their conduct. This is

certainly a very usual acceptation of the verb κατεχειν, which

Hesychius interprets κρατεινκωλυεινσυνεχειν, to retain,

hinder, &c.; these men hindering, by their vicious conduct, the

truth of God from being propagated in the earth.

Verse 19. That which may be known of God] Dr. Taylor

paraphrases this and the following verse thus: "Although the

Gentiles had no written revelation, yet what may be known of God

is every where manifest among them, God having made a clear

discovery of himself to them. For his being and perfections,

invisible to our bodily eyes, have been, ever since the creation

of the world, evidently to be seen, if attentively considered, in

the visible beauty, order, and operations observable in the

constitution and parts of the universe; especially his eternal

power and universal dominion and providence: so that they cannot

plead ignorance in excuse of their idolatry and wickedness."

Verse 20. The invisible things of him] His invisible

perfections are manifested by his visible works, and may be

apprehended by what he has made; their immensity showing his

omnipotence, their vast variety and contrivance, his

omniscience; and their adaptation to the most beneficent

purposes, his infinite goodness and philanthropy.

His eternal power] αιδιοςαυτουδυναμις, That all-powerful

energy that ever was, and ever will exist; so that, ever since

there was a creation to be surveyed, there have been intelligent

beings to make that survey.

And Godhead] θειοτης, His acting as God in the government and

support of the universe. His works prove his being; the

government and support of these works prove it equally. Creation

and providence form a twofold demonstration of God, 1st. in the

perfections of his nature; and, 2dly. in the exercise of those


Verse 21. Because that when they knew God] When they thus

acquired a general knowledge of the unity and perfections of the

Divine nature, they glorified him not as God-they did not proclaim

him to the people, but shut up his glory (as Bishop Warburton

expresses it) in their mysteries, and gave the people, in exchange

for an incorruptible God, an image made like to corruptible man.

Wherefore God, in punishment for their sins, thus turning his

truth into a lie, suffered even their mysteries, which they had

erected for a school of virtue, to degenerate into an odious sink

of vice and immorality; giving them up unto all uncleanness and

vile affections.

They glorified him not] They did not give him that worship

which his perfections required.

Neither were thankful] They manifested no gratitude for the

blessings they received from his providence, but became vain in

their imaginations, διαλογισμοις, in their reasonings. This

certainly refers to the foolish manner in which even the wisest of

their philosophers discoursed about the Divine nature, not

excepting Socrates, Plato, or Seneca. Who can read their works

without being struck with the vanity of their reasonings, as well

as with the stupidity of their nonsense, when speaking about God?

I might crowd my page with proofs of this; but it is not necessary

to those who are acquainted with their writings, and to others it

would not be useful. In short, their foolish, darkened minds

sought God no where but in the place in which he is never to be

found; viz. the vile, corrupted, and corrupting passions of their

own hearts. As they did not discover him there, they scarcely

sought him any where else.

Verse 22. Professing themselves to be wise] This is most

strikingly true of all the ancient philosophers, whether Greeks or

Romans, as their works, which remain, sufficiently testify. The

word φασκοντες signifies not merely the professing but the

assumption of the philosophic character. In this sense the word

φασκειν is used by the best Greek writers. See Kypke. A

dispassionate examination of the doctrine and lives of the most

famed philosophers of antiquity, of every nation, will show that

they were darkened in their mind and irregular in their conduct.

It was from the Christian religion alone that true philosophy and

genuine philosophers sprang.

Verse 23. They changed the glory, &c.] The finest

representation of their deities was in the human figure; and on

such representative figures the sculptors spent all their skill;

hence the HERCULES of Farnese, the VENUS of Medicis, and the

APOLLO of Belvidere. And when they had formed their gods according

to the human shape, they endowed them with human passions; and as

they clothed them with attributes of extraordinary strength,

beauty, wisdom, &c., not having the true principles of morality,

they represented them as slaves to the most disorderly and

disgraceful passions; excelling in irregularities the most

profligate of men, as possessing unlimited powers of sensual


And to birds] As the eagle of Jupiter among the Romans, and the

ibis and hawk among the Egyptians; which were all sacred animals.

Four-footed beasts] As the apis or white ox among the

Egyptians; from which the idolatrous Israelites took their golden

calf. The goat, the monkey, and the dog, were also sacred

animals among the same people.

Creeping things.] Such as the crocodile and scarabeus, or

beetle, among the Egyptians.

Verse 24. God-gave them up, &c.] They had filled up the measure

of their iniquities, and God, by permitting them to plunge into

all manner of irregularities, thus, by one species of sin,

inflicted punishment on another.

Dishonour their own bodies] Probably alluding here to what is

more openly expressed, Ro 1:26, 27.

Between themselves] ενεαυτοις, Of themselves, of their own

free accord; none inciting, none impelling.

Verse 25. Changed the truth of God into a lie] In the place of

the true worship of God, they established idolatry. In various

places of Scripture idols are termed lies. Isa 44:20;

Jer 10:14; 13:25.

The true God was known among the primitive inhabitants of the

earth, those who first became idolaters literally changed the

truth of God into a lie: they did know the true God, but they put

idols in his place.

Verse 26. For this cause God gave them up, &c.] Their system of

idolatry necessarily produced all kinds of impurity. How could it

be otherwise, when the highest objects of their worship were

adulterers, fornicators, and prostitutes of the most infamous

kind, such as Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, Venus, &c.? Of the

abominable evils with which the apostle charges the Gentiles in

this and the following verse I could produce a multitude of proofs

from their own writings; but it is needless to make the subject

plainer than the apostle has left it.

Verse 27. Receiving in themselves that recompense, &c.] Both

the women and men, by their unnatural prostitutions, enervated

their bodies, so that barrenness prevailed, and those disorders

which are necessarily attendant on prostitution and sodomitical


Verse 28. They did not like to retain God] It would, perhaps,

be more literal to translate ουκεδοκιμασαν, THEY DID NOT SEARCH

to retain God in their knowledge. They did not examine the

evidences before them (Ro 1:19, 20) of his being and attributes;

therefore God gave them over to a REPROBATE mind, ειςαδοκιμον

νουν, to an UNSEARCHING or undiscerning mind; for it is the same

word in both places. They did not reflect on the proofs they had

of the Divine nature, and God abandoned them to the operations of

a mind incapable of reflection. How men of such powers and

learning, as many of the Greek and Roman philosophers and poets

really were, could reason so inconsecutively concerning things

moral and Divine is truly astonishing. But here we see the hand of

a just and avenging God; they abused their powers, and God

deprived them of the right use of these powers.

Verse 29. Being filled with all unrighteousness] αδικια, every

vice contrary to justice and righteousness.

Fornication] πορνεια, all commerce between the sexes out of the

bounds of lawful marriage. Some of the best MSS. omit this

reading; and others have ακαθαρσια, uncleanness.

Wickedness] πονηρια, malignity, that which is oppressive to

its possessor and to its object; from πονος, labour, toil, &c.

Covetousness] πλεονεξια, from πλειον, more, and εξω,

I will have; the intense love or lust of gain; the determination

to be rich; the principle of a dissatisfied and discontented soul.

Maliciousness] κακια, malice, ill-will; what is radically and

essentially vicious.

Full of envy] φθονου, from φθινω, to wither, decay, consume,

pine away, &c.; "pain felt and malignity conceived at the sight of

excellence or happiness in another." A fine personification of

this vice is found in OVID METAM. lib. ii. ver. 768-781, which I

shall here insert, with Mr. Addison's elegant and nervous


------------------Videt intus edentem

Vipereas carnes, vitiorum alimenta suorum

Invidiam: visaque oculos avertit. At illa

Surgit humo pigra: semesarumque relinquit

Corpora serpentum, passuque incedit inerti.

Utgue deam vidit formaque armisque decoram,

Ingemuit: vultumque ima ad suspiria duxit.

Pallor in ORE sedet: macies in CORPORE toto:

Nusquam recta acies: livent rubigine dentes:

Pectora felle virent: lingua est suffusa veneno.

Risus abest, nisi quem visi movere dolores:

Nec fruitur somno, vigilacibus excita curis:

Sed videt ingratos, intabescitque videndo

Successus hominum; carpitgue et carpitur una;

Suppliciumque suum est.

-----A poisonous morsel in her teeth she chewed,

And gorged the flesh of vipers for her food.

Minerva loathing, turned away her eye.

The hideous monster, rising heavily,

Came stalking forward with a sullen pace,

And left her mangled offals on the place.

Soon as she saw the goddess gay and bright,

She fetched a groan at such a cheerful sight.

Livid and meagre were her looks, her eye

In foul distorted glances turned awry;

A hoard of gall her inward parts possessed,

And spread a greenness o'er her canker'd breast;

Her teeth were brown with rust, and from her tongue

In dangling drops the stringy poison hung.

She never smiles but when the wretched weep;

Nor lulls her malice with a moment's sleep:

Restless in spite while watchful to destroy,

She pines and sickens at another's joy;

Foe to herself, distressing and distressed,

She bears her own tormentor in her breast.

Murder] φονου, taking away the life of another by any means;

mortal hatred; for he that hates his brother in his heart is a


Debate] εριδος, contention, discord, &c. Of this vile passion

the Greeks made a goddess.

Deceit] δολου, lying, falsity, prevarication, imposition, &c.;

from δελω, to take with a bait.

Malignity] κακοηθειας, from κακος, evil, and ηθος,

a custom; bad customs, founded in corrupt sentiment, producing

evil habits, supported by general usage. It is generally

interpreted, a malignity of mind, which leads its possessor to put

the worst construction on every action; ascribing to the best

deeds the worst motives.

Whisperers] ψιθυριστος, secret detractors; those who, under

pretended secrecy, carry about accusations against their

neighbours, whether true or false; blasting their reputation by

clandestine tittle-tattle. This word should be joined to the

succeeding verse.

The whispering is well expressed by the Greek word ψιθυριστας,


Verse 30. Backbiters] καταλαλους, from κατα, against, and

λαλεω, I speak; those who speak against others; false accusers,


Haters of God] θεοστυγεις, atheists, contemners of sacred

things, maligners of providence, scorners, &c. All profligate

deists are of this class; and it seems to be the finishing part of

a diabolic character.

Despiteful] υβριστας, from υβριζω, to treat with injurious

insolence; stormy, boisterous; abusing both the characters and

persons of those over whom they can have any power.

Proud] υπερηφανους, from υπερ, above or over, and

φαινω, I show or shine. They who are continually exalting

themselves and depressing others; magnifying themselves at the

expense of their neighbours; and wishing all men to receive their

sayings as oracles.

Boasters] αλαζονας, from λαζομαι, to assume;

self-assuming, vain-glorious, and arrogant men.

Inventors of evil things] εφευρεταςκακων. Those who have

invented destructive customs, rites, fashions, &c.; such as the

different religious ceremonies among the Greeks and Romans-the

orgies of Bacchus, the mysteries of Ceres, the lupercalia,

feasts of the Bona Dea, &c., &c. Multitudes of which evil things,

destructive and abominable ceremonies, are to be found in every

part of the heathen worship.

Disobedient to parents] Though filial affection was certainly

more recommended and cultivated than many other virtues, yet there

are many instances on record of the grossest violation of this

great branch of the law of nature.

Verse 31. Without understanding] ασυνετους, from α,

negative, and συνετος, knowing; persons incapable of

comprehending what was spoken; destitute of capacity for spiritual


Covenant-breakers] ασυνθετους, from α, negative, and

συντιθημυι, to make an agreement; persons who could be bound

by no oath, because, properly speaking, they had no God to witness

or avenge their misconduct. As every covenant, or agreement, is

made as in the presence of God, so he that opposes the being and

doctrine of God is incapable of being bound by any covenant; he

can give no pledge for his conduct.

Without natural affection] αστοργους; without that attachment

which nature teaches the young of all animals to have to their

mothers, and the mothers to have for their young. The heathens, in

general, have made no scruple to expose the children they did not

think proper to bring up, and to despatch their parents when they

were grown old or past labour.

Implacable] ασπονδους, from α, negative; and σπονδη,

A LIBATION. It was customary among all nations to pour out wine

as a libation to their gods, when making a treaty. This was done

to appease the angry gods, and reconcile them to the contracting

parties. The word here shows a deadly enmity; the highest pitch of

an unforgiving spirit; in a word, persons who would not make

reconciliation either to God or man.

Unmerciful] ανελεημονας; those who were incapable, through the

deep-rooted wickedness of their own nature, of showing mercy to an

enemy when brought under their power, or doing any thing for the

necessitous, from the principle of benevolence or commiseration.

Verse 32. Who, knowing the judgment of God] δικαιωμα, the

grand rule of right which God has revealed to every man, the

knowledge of which he has, less or more, given to every nation of

the world, relative to honouring parents, taking care of their own

offspring, keeping their engagements, &c., &c. In the worst

states of heathenism this great principle has been acknowledged;

but, through the prevalence of corruption in the heart, this law,

though acknowledged, was not obeyed; and the corruption increased

so that those were highest in repute who had cast off all

restraints of this kind; so that they even delighted in them;

συνευδοκουσι, highly applauded, and gladly associated with those

transgressors: which argues the very highest pitch of moral


1. THE preceding chapter gives us one of the finest views of

the Gospel of Christ, to be met with any where. It is God's method

of saving a lost world, in a way which that world could never have

imagined: there is nothing human in it; it is all truly and

gloriously Divine; essentially necessary to the salvation of man,

and fully adequate to the purposes of its institution. Though it

is an extension of the old covenant, yet it is almost wholly

dissimilar; being as different from that as the person is from the

picture which represents it, and as the substance is from the

shadow projected by it. It is a scheme as worthy of God as it is

necessary for man; hence there are no excluding clauses in it-it

is for the Jew and for the Greek; for the wise and for the

unwise; for all the nations of the universe, and for all the

individuals of those nations. He blasphemes God who holds the


2. As God never does any thing that is not fitting, suitable,

and necessary to be done, he has not made an unnecessary display

of his mercy and goodness in the incarnation and death of his

Son-all this was necessary, else it had not been done. But how

does the necessity appear? In the deep-rooted and widely extended

corruption and profligacy of the nations of the earth. Of these

the apostle gives a most affecting and distressing picture. 1.

Almost every trace of original righteousness had been obliterated.

2. The proofs of God's eternal power and providence, so manifest

in the creation and preservation of the universe, were wholly

disregarded. 3. A vain philosophy, without right, principle, or

end, was substituted for those Divine truths which had been

discovered originally to man. 4. Their hearts were contaminated

with every vice which could blind the understanding, pervert the

judgment, corrupt the will, and debase the affections and

passions. 5. This was proved in the most unequivocal manner, by a

profligacy of conduct which had debased them far, far below the

beasts that perish; and the apostle here gives a list of their

crimes, every article of which can be incontrovertibly proved from

their own history and their own writers: crimes which, even bad as

the world is now, would shock common decency to describe. See the

whole of the second, third, sixth, and ninth Satires of Juvenal.

3. So completely lost were the heathens to a knowledge of the

influence of God on the souls and the necessity of that influence,

that they asserted, in the most positive manner, that man was the

author of his own virtue and wisdom. Cicero, Nat. Deor., lib. iii.

c. 36, declares it a general opinion that, although mankind

received from the gods the outward conveniencies of life-virtutem

autem nemo unquam acceptam Deo retulit-"virtue none ever thought

they received from the Deity." And again:-"This is the persuasion

of all, that fortune is to be had from the gods; wisdom from

ourselves." And again:-"Whoever thanked the gods for his being a

good man? Men pray to Jupiter, not that he would make them just,

temperate, and wise; but rich and prosperous."

JUVENAL, on this point, speaks thus:-

Monstro, quod ipse tibi possis dare: Semita certe

Tranquillae per virtutem patet unica vitae.

Sat. x. v. 363.

The path to peace is virtue; which, I show,

Thyself may fully on thyself bestow.

In the same stain, HORACE, EPIST. lib. i. E. xviii. v. penult.

Haec satis est orare Jovem, qui donat et aufert:

Det vitam det opes: aequum mi animum ipse parabo.

To Jove for life and wealth I pray,

These Jove may give or take away;

But, for a firm and tranquil mind,

That blessing for myself I find.

Thus, they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish

heart was darkened; and professing themselves to be wise, they

became fools. See Madan's Juvenal, vol. ii. p. 53.

4. By all this we see what the world was, and what it would

have continued to be had not God sent a Divine revelation of his

will, and established a public ministry to proclaim and enforce

it. Were man left to the power and influence of his fallen nature

he would be, in all places of his dispersion on the earth, what

the apostle describes in the 29th, 30th, and 31st verses of this

chapter. Ro 1:29-31

Reader, magnify God, who has called thee from such deep

darkness, to the marvellous light of the glorious Gospel of his

Son; and walk as a child of the light and of the day, in whom

there shall be no cause of stumbling.

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