Romans 1


1From Paul,
Grk “Paul.” The word “from” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.
a slave
Traditionally, “servant.” Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.
Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s “slave” or “servant” is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For someone who was Jewish this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.”
of Christ Jesus,
Many important mss, as well as several others (Ƥ26 א A G Ψ 33 1739 1881 Maj.), have a reversed order of these words and read “Jesus Christ” rather than “Christ Jesus” (Ƥ10 B 81 pc). The meaning is not affected in either case, but the reading “Christ Jesus” is preferred as slightly more difficult and thus more likely the original (a scribe who found it would be prone to change it to the more common expression). At the same time, Paul is fond of the order “Christ Jesus,” especially in certain letters such as Romans, Galatians, and Philippians. As well, the later Pauline letters almost uniformly use this order in the salutations. A decision is difficult, but “Christ Jesus” is slightly preferred.
called to be an apostle,
Grk “a called apostle.”
set apart for the gospel of God.
The genitive in the phrase εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ (euangelion qeou, “the gospel of God”) could be translated as (1) a subjective genitive (“the gospel which God brings”) or (2) an objective genitive (“the gospel about God”). Either is grammatically possible. This is possibly an instance of a plenary genitive (see ExSyn 119–21; M. Zerwick, "Biblical Greeks, ##36–39). If so, an interplay between the two concepts is intended: The gospel which God brings is in fact the gospel about himself. However, in view of God’s action in v. 2 concerning this gospel, a subjective genitive notion (“the gospel which God brings”) is slightly preferred.
2This gospel
Grk “the gospel of God, which he promised.” Because of the length and complexity of this sentence in Greek, it was divided into shorter English sentences in keeping with contemporary English style. To indicate the referent of the relative pronoun (“which”), the word “gospel” was repeated at the beginning of v. 2.
he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,
3concerning his Son who was a descendant
Grk “born of the seed” (an idiom).
of David with reference to the flesh,
Grk “according to the flesh,” indicating Jesus’ earthly life, a reference to its weakness. This phrase implies that Jesus was more than human; otherwise it would have been sufficient to say that he was a descendant of David, cf. L. Morris, Romans, 44.
4who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power
Appointed the Son-of-God-in-power. Most translations render the Greek participle ὁρισθέντος (horisqentos, from ὁρίζω, horizō) “declared” or “designated” in order to avoid the possible interpretation that Jesus was appointed the Son of God by the resurrection. However, the Greek term ὁρίζω is used eight times in the NT, and it always has the meaning “to determine, appoint.” Paul is not saying that Jesus was appointed the “Son of God by the resurrection” but “Son-of-God-in-power by the resurrection,” as indicated by the hyphenation. He was born in weakness in human flesh (with respect to the flesh, v. 3) and he was raised with power. This is similar to Matt 28:18 where Jesus told his disciples after the resurrection, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
according to the Holy Spirit
Grk “spirit of holiness.” Some interpreters take the phrase to refer to Christ’s own inner spirit, which was characterized by holiness.
by the resurrection
Or “by his resurrection.” Most interpreters see this as a reference to Jesus’ own resurrection, although some take it to refer to the general resurrection at the end of the age, of which Jesus’ resurrection is the first installment (cf. 1 Cor 15:23).
from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
5Through him
Grk “through whom.”
we have received grace and our apostleship
Some interpreters understand the phrase “grace and apostleship” as a hendiadys, translating “grace [i.e., gift] of apostleship.” The pronoun “our” is supplied in the translation to clarify the sense of the statement.
to bring about the obedience
Grk “and apostleship for obedience.”
of faith
The phrase ὑπακοὴν πίστεως has been variously understood as (1) an objective genitive (a reference to the Christian faith, “obedience to [the] faith”); (2) a subjective genitive (“the obedience faith produces [or requires]”); (3) an attributive genitive (“believing obedience”); or (4) as a genitive of apposition (“obedience, [namely] faith”) in which “faith” further defines “obedience.” These options are discussed by C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans (ICC), 1:66. Others take the phrase as deliberately ambiguous; see D. B. Garlington, “The Obedience of Faith in the Letter to the Romans: Part I: The Meaning of ὑπακοὴ πίστεως (Rom 1:5; 16:26),” WTJ 52 (1990): 201-24.
among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name.
6You also are among them,
Grk “among whom you also are called.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation. The NIV, with its translation “And you also are among those who are called,” takes the phrase ἐν οἳς ἐστε to refer to the following clause rather than the preceding, so that the addressees of the letter (“you also”) are not connected with “all the Gentiles” mentioned at the end of v. 5. It is more likely, however, that the relative pronoun οἳς has τοῖς ἔθνεσιν as its antecedent, which would indicate that the church at Rome was predominantly Gentile.
called to belong to Jesus Christ.
Grk “called of Jesus Christ.”
7To all those loved by God in Rome,
For location see Journey of Paul map 4-A1.
called to be saints:
Although the first part of v. 7 is not a complete English sentence, it maintains the “From…to” pattern used in all the Pauline letters to indicate the sender and the recipients. Here, however, there are several intervening verses (vv. 2–6), which makes the first half of v. 7 appear as an isolated sentence fragment.
Grace and peace to you
Grk “Grace to you and peace.”
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Paul’s Desire to Visit Rome

8 First of all,
Grk “First.” Paul never mentions a second point, so J. B. Phillips translated “I must begin by telling you….”
I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.
9For God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel
Grk “whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel.”
of his Son, is my witness that
Grk “as.”
I continually remember you
10and I always ask
Grk “remember you, always asking.”
in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting you according to the will of God.
Grk “succeed in coming to you in the will of God.”
11For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift
Paul does not mean here that he is going to bestow upon the Roman believers what is commonly known as a “spiritual gift,” that is, a special enabling for service given to believers by the Holy Spirit. Instead, this is either a metonymy of cause for effect (Paul will use his own spiritual gifts to edify the Romans), or it simply means something akin to a blessing or benefit in the spiritual realm. It is possible that Paul uses this phrase to connote specifically the broader purpose of his letter, which is for the Romans to understand his gospel, but this seems less likely.
to strengthen you,
12that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another’s faith,
Grk “that is, to be comforted together with you through the faith in one another.”
both yours and mine.
13I do not want you to be unaware,
The expression “I do not want you to be unaware [Grk ignorant]” also occurs in 1 Cor 10:1; 12:1; 1 Thess 4:13. Paul uses the phrase to signal that he is about to say something very important.
brothers and sisters,
Grk “brothers,” but the Greek word may be used for “brothers and sisters” or “fellow Christians” as here (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 1, where considerable nonbiblical evidence for the plural ἀδελφοί [adelfoi] meaning “brothers and sisters” is cited).
that I often intended to come to you (and was prevented until now), so that I may have some fruit even among you, just as I already have among the rest of the Gentiles.
Grk “in order that I might have some fruit also among you just as also among the rest of the Gentiles.”
14I am a debtor
Or “obligated.”
both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
15Thus I am eager
Or “willing, ready”; Grk “so my eagerness [is] to preach…” The word πρόθυμος (prothumos, “eager, willing”) is used only elsewhere in the NT in Matt 26:41 = Mark 14:38: “the spirit indeed is willing (πρόθυμος), but the flesh is weak.”
also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.
For location see Journey of Paul map 4-A1.

The Power of the Gospel

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Here the Greek refers to anyone who is not Jewish.
17For the righteousness
The nature of the “righteousness” described here and the force of the genitive θεοῦ (“of God”) which follows have been much debated. (1) Some (e.g. C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:98) understand “righteousness” to refer to the righteous status given to believers as a result of God’s justifying activity, and see the genitive “of God” as a genitive of source (= “from God”). (2) Others see the “righteousness” as God’s act or declaration that makes righteous (i.e., justifies) those who turn to him in faith, taking the genitive “of God” as a subjective genitive (see E. Käsemann, Romans, 25–30). (3) Still others see the “righteousness of God” mentioned here as the attribute of God himself, understanding the genitive “of God” as a possessive genitive (“God’s righteousness”).
of God is revealed in the gospel
Grk “in it”; the referent (the gospel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
from faith to faith,
Or “by faith for faith,” or “by faith to faith.” There are many interpretations of the phrase ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν (ek pisteōs eis pistin). It may have the idea that this righteousness is obtained by faith (ἐκ πίστεως) because it was designed for faith (εἰς πίστιν). For a summary see J. Murray, Romans (NICNT), 1:363–74.
just as it is written, “ The righteous by faith will live .”
A quotation from Hab 2:4.

The Condemnation of the Unrighteous

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people
The genitive ἀνθρώπων could be taken as an attributed genitive, in which case the phase should be translated “against all ungodly and unrighteous people” (cf. “the truth of God” in v. 25 which is also probably an attributed genitive). C. E. B. Cranfield takes the section 1:18–32 to refer to all people (not just Gentiles), while 2:1–3:20 points out that the Jew is no exception (Romans [ICC], 1:104–6; 1:137–38).
who suppress the truth by their
“Their” is implied in the Greek, but is supplied because of English style.
Or “by means of unrighteousness.” Grk “in (by) unrighteousness.”
19because what can be known about God is plain to them,
Grk “is manifest to/in them.”
because God has made it plain to them.
20For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people
Grk “they”; the referent (people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts
Grk “heart.”
were darkened.
22Although they claimed
The participle φάσκοντες (faskontes) is used concessively here.
to be wise, they became fools
23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings
Grk “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God in likeness of an image of corruptible man.” Here there is a wordplay on the Greek terms ἄφθαρτος (afthartos, “immortal, imperishable, incorruptible”) and φθαρτός (fthartos, “mortal, corruptible, subject to decay”).
or birds or four-footed animals
Possibly an allusion to Ps 106:19–20.
or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over
Possibly an allusion to Ps 81:12.
in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor
The genitive articular infinitive τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι (tou atimazesqai, “to dishonor”) has been taken as (1) an infinitive of purpose; (2) an infinitive of result; or (3) an epexegetical (i.e., explanatory) infinitive, expanding the previous clause.
their bodies among themselves.
Grk “among them.”
Grk “who.” The relative pronoun was converted to a personal pronoun and, because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
exchanged the truth of God for a lie
Grk “the lie.”
and worshiped and served the creation
Or “creature, created things.”
rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones,
Grk “for their females exchanged the natural function for that which is contrary to nature.” The term χρῆσις (chrēsis) has the force of “sexual relations” here (L&N 23.65).
27and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women
Grk “likewise so also the males abandoning the natural function of the female.”
and were inflamed in their passions
Grk “burned with intense desire” (L&N 25.16).
for one another. Men
Grk “another, men committing…and receiving,” continuing the description of their deeds. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God,
Grk “and just as they did not approve to have God in knowledge.”
God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.
Grk “the things that are improper.”
29They are filled
Grk “being filled” or “having been filled,” referring to those described in v. 28. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with
Grk “malice, full of,” continuing the description. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips,
30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, 31senseless, covenant-breakers,
Or “promise-breakers.”
heartless, ruthless.
32Although they fully know
Grk “who, knowing…, not only do them but also approve…” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die,
Grk “are worthy of death.”
they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.
“Vice lists” like vv. 28–32 can be found elsewhere in the NT in Matt 15:19; Gal 5:19–21; 1 Tim 1:9–10; and 1 Pet 4:3. An example from the intertestamental period can be found in Wis 14:25–26.

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