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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 14

Verse 14. I am debtor. This does not mean that they had conferred any favour on him, which bound him to make this return, but that he was under obligation to preach the gospel to all to whom it was possible. This obligation arose from the favour that God had shown him in appointing him to this work. He was specially chosen as a vessel to bear the gospel to the Gentiles, (Ac 9:15; Ro 11:13) and he did not feel that he had discharged the obligation until he had made the gospel known as far as possible among all the nations of the earth.

To the Greeks. This term properly denotes those who dwelt in Greece. But as the Greeks were the most polished people of antiquity, the term came to be synonymous with the polished, the refined, the wise, as opposed to barbarians. In this place it doubtless means the same as "the wise," and includes the Romans also, as it cannot be supposed that Paul would designate the Romans as barbarians. Besides, the Romans, claimed an origin from Greece, and Dionysius Halieaxnassus (book i.) shows that the Italian and Roman people were of Greek descent.

Barbarians. All who were not intended under the general name of Greeks. Thus Ammonius says, that "all who were not Greeks were barbarians." This term barbarianbarbarov—properly denotes one who speaks a foreign language—a foreigner; and the Greeks applied it to all who did not use their tongue. Comp. 1 Co 14:11. "I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian," etc.; i.e., I shall speak a language which he cannot understand. The word did not therefore of necessity denote any rusticity of manners, or any want of refinement.

To the wise. To those who esteemed themselves to be wise, or who boasted of their wisdom. The term is synonymous with "the Greeks," who prided themselves much in their wisdom. 1 Co 1:22, "The Greeks seek after wisdom." Comp. 1 Co 1:19; 3:18,19; 4:19; 2 Co 11:19.


Unwise. Those who were regarded as the ignorant and unpolished part of mankind. The expression is equivalent to ours, "to the learned and the unlearned." It was an evidence of the proper spirit to be willing to preach the gospel to either. The gospel claims to have power to instruct all mankind, and they who are called to preach it should be able to instruct those who esteem themselves to be wise, and who are endowed with science, learning, and talent; and they should be willing to labour to enlighten the most obscure, ignorant, and degraded portions of the race. This is the true spirit of the Christian ministry.

{s} "debtor" 1 Co 9:16

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