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Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Prayer of Thanksgiving

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. 9For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, 10asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. 11For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. 14I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish 15—hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

The Power of the Gospel

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”

The Guilt of Humankind

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

1. Paul, etc. 1111     “The inscription of the Pauline Epistles,” says Turrettin, “is according to the manner of the ancients, both Greeks and Romans. They were wont to prefix their name; and to those to whom they wrote they added their good wishes.” We have an example in Acts 23:26. — Ed. — With regard to the word Paul, as it is a subject of no such moment as ought to detain us, and as nothing can be said which has not been mentioned by other expounders, I should say nothing, were it not proper to satisfy some at small expense without being tedious to others; for the subject shall be despatched in a very few words.

They who think that the Apostle attained this name as a trophy for having brought Sergius, the proconsul, to the faith of Christ, are confuted by the testimony of Luke, who shows that he was so called before that time. (Acts 13:7, 9.) Nor does it seem probable to me, that it was given him when he was converted to Christ; though this idea so pleased Augustine, that he took occasion refinedly to philosophize on the subject; for he says, that from a proud Saul he was made a very little (parvulum 1212     Thereby expressing the meaning of Paulus, which in Latin is little. “Paul,” says the quaint Elnathan Parr, “as signifies little, and indeed not unfitly, for he is reported to have been low in stature, and to have had a very small voice,” which is thought to have been objected to him in 2 Corinthians 10:10Ed. ) disciple of Christ. More probable is the opinion of Origen, who thought that he had two names; for it is not unlikely to be true, that his name, Saul, derived from his kindred, was given him by his parents to indicate his religion and his descent; and that his other name, Paul, was added, to show his right to Roman citizenship; 1313     Most writers agree in this view, regarding Saul as his Hebrew name and Paul as his Roman name. — Ed. they would not have this honor, then highly valued, to be otherwise than made evident; but they did not so much value it as to withhold a proof of his Israelitic descent. But he has commonly taken the name Paul in his Epistles, and it may be for the following reasons: because in the churches to which he wrote, it was more known and more common, more acceptable in the Roman empire, and less known among his own nation. It was indeed his duty to avoid the foolish suspicion and hatred under which the name of a Jew then labored among the Romans and in their provinces, and to abstain from inflaming the rage of his own countrymen, and to take care of himself.

A servant of Jesus Christ, etc. — He signalizes himself with these distinctions for the purpose of securing more authority to his doctrine; and this he seeks to secure by two things — first, by asserting his call to the Apostleship; 1414     “A called Apostle — vocatus apostolus — κλητὸς απόστολος;” our version is, “called to be an Apostle”. Most consider “called” here in the sense of chosen or elected, “a chosen Apostle.” Professor Stuart observes, that κλητὸς in the writings of Paul has always the meaning of efficient calling, and signifies not only the invited, but the effectually invited. He refers to 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Romans 1:6, 7; Romans 8:28; compared with Galatians 1:15; Jude 1:1; Hebrews 3:1; Romans 11:29; Ephesians 4:1
   He was an Apostle by a call, or as Beza renders it, “by the call of Godex Dei vocatione apostolus.” The meaning is the same as what he himself expresses it in Galatians 1:1. Turrettin renders it, “Apostolus vocatione divina — an Apostle by divine vocation.”

   The difference between “a called Apostle” and “called to be an Apostle,” is this, that the first conveys the idea that he obeyed the call, and the other does not. — Ed.
and secondly, by showing that his call was not unconnected with the Church of Rome: for it was of great importance that he should be deemed an Apostle through God’s call, and that he should be known as one destined for the Roman Church. He therefore says, that he was a servant of Christ, and called to the office of an Apostle, thereby intimating that he had not presumptuously intruded into that office. He then adds, that he was chosen, (selectum — selected, 1515     Αφωρισμένος separated, set apart; “segregatus,” Vulgate; “separatus, Beza. “The Pharisees,” says Leigh, “were termed ἀφωρισμένος we may English them Separatists: they separated themselves to the study of the law, in which respect they might be called ἀφωρισμένος εἰς τὸν νόμον, separated to the law. In allusion to this, saith Drusius, the Apostle is thought to have styled himself, Romans 1:1, ἀφωρισμένον εἰς ἐυαγγέλιον, separated unto the Gospel, when he was called from being a Pharisee to be a preacher of the Gospel.” Separated is the word adopted both by Doddridge and Macknight, as well as by our own version. — Ed. ) by which he more fully confirms the fact, that he was not one of the people, but a particular Apostle of the Lord. Consistently with this, he had before proceeded from what was general to what was particular, as the Apostleship was an especial service; for all who sustain the office of teaching are to be deemed Christ’s servants, but Apostles, in point of honor, far exceed all others. But the choosing for the gospel, etc., which he afterwards mentions, expresses the end as well as the use of the Apostleship; for he intended briefly to show for what purpose he was called to that function. By saying then that he was servant of Christ, he declared what he had in common with other teachers; by claiming to himself the title of an Apostle, he put himself before others; but as no authority is due to him who willfully intrudes himself, he reminds us, that he was appointed by God.

Then the meaning is, — that Paul was a servant of Christ, not any kind of servant, but an Apostle, and that by the call of God, and not by presumptuous intrusion: then follows a clearer explanation of the Apostolic office, — it was ordained for the preaching of the Gospel. For I cannot agree with those who refer this call of which he speaks to the eternal election of God; and who understand the separation, either that from his mother’s womb, which he mentions in Galatians 1:15, or that which Luke refers to, when Paul was appointed for the Gentiles: but I consider that he simply glories in having God as the author of his call, lest any one should think that he had through his own rashness taken this honor to himself. 1616     Some combine the four separations. “Set apart in the eternal counsel of God, and from his mother’s womb, Galatians 1:15, and by the special commandment of the Holy Ghost, Acts 13:2, confirmed by constitution of the Church, Acts 13:3; Galatians 2:9.” — Parr. But the object here seems to have been that stated by Calvin: nor is it just or prudent to connect any other idea with the word except that which the context requires; for to do so only tends to create confusion. — Ed.

We must here observe, that all are not fitted for the ministry of the word; for a special call is necessary: and even those who seem particularly fitted ought to take heed lest they thrust themselves in without a call. But as to the character of the Apostolic and of the Episcopal call, we shall consider it in another place. We must further observe, that the office of an Apostle is the preaching of the gospel. It hence appears what just objects of ridicule are those dumb dogs, who render themselves conspicuous only by their mitre and their crook, and boast themselves to be the successors of the Apostles!

The word, servant, imports nothing else but a minister, for it refers to what is official. 1717     Moses, Joshua, David, Nehemiah, etc., where, in a similar sense, called servants; and also our Savior. They were officially servants. — Ed I mention this to remove the mistake of those who too much refine on this expression and think that there is here to be understood a contrast between the service of Moses and that of Christ.

2. Which he had before promised, etc. — As the suspicion of being new subtracts much from the authority of a doctrine, he confirms the faith of the gospel by antiquity; as though he said, “Christ came not on the earth unexpectedly, nor did he introduce a doctrine of a new kind and not heard of before, inasmuch as he, and his gospel too, had been promised and expected from the beginning of the world.” But as antiquity is often fabulous, he brings witnesses, and those approved, even the Prophets of God, that he might remove every suspicion. He in the third place adds, that their testimonies were duly recorded, that is, in the Holy Scriptures.

We may learn from this passage what the gospel is: he teaches us, not that it was promulgated by the Prophets but only promised. If then the Prophets promised the gospel, it follows, that it was revealed, when our Lord was at length manifested in the flesh. They are then mistaken who confound the promises with the gospel, since the gospel is properly the appointed preaching of Christ as manifested, in whom the promises themselves are exhibited. 1818     The verb is προεπηγγείλατο only here; it comes from επαγγέλλομαι, which Schleusner says, means in the middle voice, to promise. “Which he had before promised.” is then the proper rendering, and not “Which he formerly published,” as proposed by Professor Stuart. Both Doddridge and Macknight have retained our version, with which that of Beza agrees. — Ed.

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