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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 7
Verse 7. To all that be in Rome. That is, to all who bear the Christian name. Perhaps he here included not only the church at Rome, but all who might have been there from abroad. Rome was a place of vast concourse for foreigners; and Paul probably addressed all who happened to be there.
Beloved of God. Whom God loves. This is the privilege of all Christians. And this proves that the persons whom Paul addressed were not those merely who had been invited to the external privileges of the gospel. The importance of this observation will appear in the progress of these Notes.
Called to be saints. So called, or influenced by God who had called them, as to become saints. The word saints—agioi—means those who are holy, or those who are devoted or consecrated to God. The radical idea of the word is that which is separated from a common to a sacred use, and answers to the Hebrew word
—kadosh. It is applied to anything that is set apart to the service of God, to the temple, to the sacrifices, to the utensils about the temple, to the garments, etc., of the priests, and to the priests them- selves. It was applied to the Jews as a people separated from other nations, and devoted or consecrated to God; while other nations were devoted to the service of idols. It is also applied to Christians, as being a people devoted or set apart to the service of God. The radical idea, then, as applied to Christians is, that they are separated from other men, and other objects and pursuits, and consecrated to the service of God. This is the peculiar characteristic of the saints. And this characteristic the Roman Christians had shown. For the use of the word as stated above, see the following passages of Scripture: Lu 2:23; Ex 13:2; Ro 11:16; Mt 7:6; 1 Pe 1:16; Ac 9:13; 1 Pe 2:5; Ac 3:21; Eph 3:5; 1 Pe 2:9; Php 2:15; 1 Jo 3:1,2.
Grace. This word properly means, favour. It is very often used in the New Testament, and is employed in the sense of benignity or benevolence; felicity, or a prosperous state of affairs; the Christian religion, as the highest expression of the benevolence or favour of God; the happiness which Christianity confers on its friends in this and the future life; the apostolic office; charity, or alms; thanksgiving; joy, or pleasure; and the benefits produced on the Christian's heart and life by religion—the grace of meekness, patience, charity, etc. Schleusner. In this place, and in similar places in the beginning of the apostolic epistles, it seems to be a word including all those blessings that are applicable to Christians in common; denoting an ardent wish that all the mercies and favours of God for time and eternity, blended under the general name grace, may be conferred on them. It is to be understood as connected with a word implying invocation. I pray, or I desire that grace, etc., may be conferred on you. It is the customary form of salutation in nearly all the apostolic epistles, 1 Co 1:3; 2 Co 1:2; Ga 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Th 1:1; 2 Th 1:2; Phm 1:3.
And peace. Peace is the state of freedom from war. As war conveys the idea of discord and numberless calamities and dangers, so peace is the opposite, and conveys the idea of concord, safety, and prosperity. Thus, to wish one peace was the same as to wish him all safety and prosperity. This form of salutation was common among the Hebrews. Ge 43:23, "Peace to you, fear not;" Jud 6:23; 19:20; Lu 24:36.
But the word peace is also used in contrast with that state of agitation and conflict which a sinner has with his conscience, and with God. The sinner is like the troubled sea which cannot rest, Isa 57:20. The Christian is at peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, Ro 5:1. By this word, denoting reconciliation with God, the blessings of the Christian religion are often described in the Scriptures, Ro 8:6; 14:17; 15:13; Ga 5:22; Php 4:7.
A prayer for peace, therefore, in the epistles, is not a mere formal salutation, but has a special reference to those spiritual blessings which result from reconciliation with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
From God our Father. The Father of all Christians. He is the Father of all his creatures, as they are his offspring, Ac 17:28,29. He is especially the Father of all Christians, as they have been "begotten by him to a lively hope," have been adopted into his family, and are like him, Mt 5:45; 1 Pe 1:3; 1 Jo 5:1; 3:1,2.
The expression here is equivalent to a prayer that God the Father would bestow grace and peace on the Romans. It implies that these blessings proceed from God, and are to be expected from him.
And the Lord Jesus Christ. From him. The Lord Jesus Christ is especially regarded in the New Testament as the source of peace, and the procurer of it. See Lu 2:14; 19:38,42; Joh 14:27; 16:33; Ac 10:36; Ro 5:1; Eph 2:17. Each of these places will show with what propriety peace was invoked from the Lord Jesus. From thus connecting the Lord Jesus with the Father in this place, we may see,
(1.) that the apostle regarded him as the source of grace and peace as really as he did the Father.
(2.) He introduced them in the same connexion, and with reference to the bestowment of the same blessings.
(3.) If the mention of the Father in this connexion implies a prayer to him, or an act of worship, the mention of the Lord Jesus implies the same thing, and was an act of homage to him.
(4.) All this shows that his mind was familiarized to the idea that he was Divine. No man would introduce his name in such connexions if he did not believe that he was equal with God. Comp. Php 2:2-11. It is from this incidental and unstudied manner of expression, that we have one of the most striking proofs of the manner in which the sacred writers regarded the Lord Jesus Christ.
These seven verses are one sentence. They are a striking instance of the manner of Paul. The subject is simply a salutation to the Roman church. But at the mention of some single words, the mind of Paul seems to catch fire, and to burn and blaze with signal intensity. He leaves the immediate subject before him, and advances some vast thought that awes us, and fixes us in contemplation, and involves us in difficulty about his meaning, and then returns to his subject. This is the characteristic of his great mind; and it is this, among other things, that makes it so difficult to interpret his writings.
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