Romans 1

** The scope or design of the apostle in writing to the Romans

appears to have been, to answer the unbelieving, and to teach

the believing Jew; to confirm the Christian and to convert the

idolatrous Gentile; and to show the Gentile convert as equal

with the Jewish, in respect of his religious condition, and his

rank in the Divine favour. These several designs are brought

into on view, by opposing or arguing with the infidel or

unbelieving Jew, in favour of the Christian or believing

Gentile. The way of a sinner's acceptance with God, or

justification in his sight, merely by grace, through faith in

the righteousness of Christ, without distinction of nations, is

plainly stated. This doctrine is cleared from the objections

raised by Judaizing Christians, who were for making terms of

acceptance with God by a mixture of the law and the gospel, and

for shutting out the Gentiles from any share in the blessings of

salvation brought in by the Messiah. In the conclusion, holiness

is further enforced by practical exhortations.

* The apostle's commission. (1-7) Prays for the saints at Rome,

and expresses his desire to see them. (8-15) The gospel way of

justification by faith, for Jews and Gentiles. (16,17) The sins

of the Gentiles set forth. (18-32)

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.
8-15 We must show love for our friends, not only by praying for

them, but by praising God for them. As in our purposes, so in

our desires, we must remember to say, If the Lord will, #Jas

4:15|. Our journeys are made prosperous or otherwise, according

to the will of God. We should readily impart to others what God

has trusted to us, rejoicing to make others joyful, especially

taking pleasure in communing with those who believe the same

things with us. If redeemed by the blood, and converted by the

grace of the Lord Jesus, we are altogether his; and for his sake

we are debtors to all men, to do all the good we can. Such

services are our duty.
16,17 In these verses the apostle opens the design of the whole

epistle, in which he brings forward a charge of sinfulness

against all flesh; declares the only method of deliverance from

condemnation, by faith in the mercy of God, through Jesus

Christ; and then builds upon it purity of heart, grateful

obedience, and earnest desires to improve in all those Christian

graces and tempers, which nothing but a lively faith in Christ

can bring forth. God is a just and holy God, and we are guilty

sinners. It is necessary that we have a righteousness to appear

in before him: there is such a righteousness brought in by the

Messiah, and made known in the gospel; a gracious method of

acceptance, notwithstanding the guilt of our sins. It is the

righteousness of Christ, who is God, coming from a satisfaction

of infinite value. Faith is all in all, both in the beginning

and progress of Christian life. It is not from faith to works,

as if faith put us into a justified state, and then works kept

us in it; but it is all along from faith to faith; it is faith

pressing forward, and gaining the victory over unbelief.
18-25 The apostle begins to show that all mankind need the

salvation of the gospel, because none could obtain the favour of

God, or escape his wrath by their own works. For no man can

plead that he has fulfilled all his obligations to God and to

his neighbour; nor can any truly say that he has fully acted up

to the light afforded him. The sinfulness of man is described as

ungodliness against the laws of the first table, and

unrighteousness against those of the second. The cause of that

sinfulness is holding the truth in unrighteousness. All, more or

less, do what they know to be wrong, and omit what they know to

be right, so that the plea of ignorance cannot be allowed from

any. Our Creator's invisible power and Godhead are so clearly

shown in the works he has made, that even idolaters and wicked

Gentiles are left without excuse. They foolishly followed

idolatry; and rational creatures changed the worship of the

glorious Creator, for that of brutes, reptiles, and senseless

images. They wandered from God, till all traces of true religion

must have been lost, had not the revelation of the gospel

prevented it. For whatever may be pretended, as to the

sufficiency of man's reason to discover Divine truth and moral

obligation, or to govern the practice aright, facts cannot be

denied. And these plainly show that men have dishonoured God by

the most absurd idolatries and superstitions; and have degraded

themselves by the vilest affections and most abominable deeds.
26-32 In the horrid depravity of the heathen, the truth of our

Lord's words was shown: "Light was come into the world, but men

loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil;

for he that doeth evil hateth the light." The truth was not to

their taste. And we all know how soon a man will contrive,

against the strongest evidence, to reason himself out of the

belief of what he dislikes. But a man cannot be brought to

greater slavery than to be given up to his own lusts. As the

Gentiles did not like to keep God in their knowledge, they

committed crimes wholly against reason and their own welfare.

The nature of man, whether pagan or Christian, is still the

same; and the charges of the apostle apply more or less to the

state and character of men at all times, till they are brought

to full submission to the faith of Christ, and renewed by Divine

power. There never yet was a man, who had not reason to lament

his strong corruptions, and his secret dislike to the will of

God. Therefore this chapter is a call to self-examination, the

end of which should be, a deep conviction of sin, and of the

necessity of deliverance from a state of condemnation.
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