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1. God's Wrath Against Mankind

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

8First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. 13Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do 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.

3. Concerning his own Son, etc. — This is a remarkable passage, by which we are taught that the whole gospel is included in Christ, so that if any removes one step from Christ, he withdraws himself from the gospel. For since he is the living and express image of the Father, it is no wonder, that he alone is set before us as one to whom our whole faith is to be directed and in whom it is to center. It is then a definition of the gospel, by which Paul expresses what is summarily comprehended in it. I have rendered the words which follow, Jesus Christ our Lord, in the same case; which seems to me to be most agreeable with the context. We hence learn, that he who has made a due proficiency in the knowledge of Christ, has acquired every thing which can be learned from the gospel; and, on the other hand, that they who seek to be wise without Christ, are not only foolish, but even completely insane.

Who was made, etc. — Two things must be found in Christ, in order that we may obtain salvation in him, even divinity and humanity. His divinity possesses power, righteousness, life, which by his humanity are conveyed to us. Hence the Apostle has expressly mentioned both in the Summary he gives of the gospel, that Christ was manifested in the flesh — and that in it he declared himself to be the Son of God. So John says; after having declared that the Word was made flesh, he adds, that in that flesh there was a glory as of the only-begotten Son of God. (John 1:14.) That he specially notices the descent and lineage of Christ from his ancestor David, is not superfluous; for by this he calls back our attention to the promise, that we may not doubt but that he is the very person who had been formerly promised. So well known was the promise made to David, that it appears to have been a common thing among the Jews to call the Messiah the Son of David. This then — that Christ did spring from David — was said for the purpose of confirming our faith.

He adds, according to the flesh; and he adds this, that we may understand that he had something more excellent than flesh, which he brought from heaven, and did not take from David, even that which he afterwards mentions, the glory of the divine nature. Paul does further by these words not only declare that Christ had real flesh, but he also clearly distinguishes his human from his divine nature; and thus he refutes the impious raving of Servetus, who assigned flesh to Christ, composed of three untreated elements.

4. Declared 1919     “Declaratus,” ὁρισθέντος. Some of the ancients, such as Origen, Chrysostom, Cyril, and others, have given to this verb the meaning of is “proved — δειχθέντος;” demonstrated — ἀποφανθέντος;” “exhibited — ἀποδειχθώντος;”etc. But it is said that the word has not this meaning in the New Testament, and that it means, limited, determined, decreed, constituted. Besides here, it is found only in Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; Acts 10:42; Acts 11:29; Acts 17:26; Hebrews 4:7. The word, determined, or constituted, if adopted here, would amount to the same thing, that is, that Christ was visibly determined or constituted the Son of God through the resurrection, or by that event. It was that which fixed, settled, determined, and manifestly exhibited him as the Son of God, clothed and adorned with his own power. Professor Stuart has conjured a number of difficulties in connection with this verse, for which there seems to be no solid reason. The phrase, the Son of God, is so well known from the usage of Scripture, that there is no difficulty connected with it: the full phrase is the only-begotten Son. To say that Christ’s resurrection was no evidence of his divine nature, as Lazarus and others had been raised from the dead, appears indeed very strange. Did Lazarus rise through his own power? Did Lazarus rise again for our justification? Was his resurrection an attestation of any thing he had previously declared? The Revelation A. Barnes very justly says, that the circumstances connected with Christ were those which rendered his resurrection a proof of his divinity.
   Professor Hodge gives what he conceives to be the import of the two verses in these words, “Jesus Christ was, as to his human nature, the Son of David; but he was clearly demonstrated to be, as to his divine nature, the Son of God, by the resurrection from the dead.” This view is taken by many, such as Pareus, Beza, Turrettin, etc. But the words, “according to the Spirit of Holiness” — κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, are taken differently by others, as meaning the Holy Spirit. As the phrase is nowhere else found, it may be taken in either sense. That the divine nature of Christ is called Spirit, is evident. See 1 Corinthians 15:45; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 3:18 Doddridge, Scott, and Chalmers, consider The Holy Spirit to be intended. The last gives this paraphrase: — “Declared, or determinately marked out to be the Son of God and with power. The thing was demonstrated by an evidence, the exhibition of which required a putting forth of power, which Paul in another place represents as a very great and strenuous exertion, ‘According to the working of his mighty power when he raised him from the dead.’ — The Spirit of Holiness, or the Holy Spirit. It was through the operation of the Holy Spirit that the divine nature was infused into the human at the birth of Jesus Christ; and the very same agent, it is remarkable, was employed in the work of the resurrection. ‘Put to death in the flesh,’ says Peter, and ‘quickened by the Spirit.’ We have only to do with the facts of the case. He was demonstrated to be the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit having been put forth in raising him from the dead.” As to the genitive case after “resurrection,” see a similar instance in Acts 17:32

   The idea deduced by Calvin, that he is called here “the Spirit of Holiness,” on account of the holiness he works in us, seems not well-founded, though advanced by Theodoret and Augustine. — Ed.
the Son of God, etc.: or, if you prefer, determined (definitus); as though he had said, that the power, by which he was raised from the dead, was something like a decree by which he was proclaimed the Son of God, according to what is said in Psalm 2:7, “I have this day begotten thee:” for this begetting refers to what was made known. Though some indeed find here three separate evidences of the divinity of Christ — “power,” understanding thereby miracles — then the testimony of the Spirit — and, lastly, the resurrection from the dead — I yet prefer to connect them together, and to reduce these three things to one, in this manner — that Christ was declared the Son of God by openly exercising a real celestial power, that is, the power of the Spirit, when he rose from the dead; but that this power is comprehended, when a conviction of it is imprinted on our hearts by the same Spirit. The language of the Apostle well agrees with this view; for he says that he was declared by power, because power, peculiar to God, shone forth in him, and uncontestably proved him to be God; and this was indeed made evident by his resurrection. Paul says the same thing in another place; having stated, that by death the weakness of the flesh appeared, he at the same time extols the power of the Spirit in his resurrection; (2 Corinthians 13:4) This glory, however, is not made known to us, until the same Spirit imprints a conviction of it on our hearts. And that Paul includes, together with the wonderful energy of the Spirit, which Christ manifested by rising from the dead, the testimony which all the faithful feel in their hearts, is even evident from this — that he expressly calls it the Spirit of Holiness; as though he had said, that the Spirit, as far as it sanctifies, confirms and ratifies that evidence of its power which it once exhibited. For the Scripture is wont often to ascribe such titles to the Spirit, as tend to illustrate our present subject. Thus He is called by our Lord the Spirit of Truth, on account of the effect which he mentions; (John 14:17)

Besides, a divine power is said to have shone forth in the resurrection of Christ for this reason — because he rose by his own power, as he had often testified:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days
I will raise it up again,” (John 2:19;)

“No man taketh it from me,” etc.; (John 10:18)

For he gained victory over death, (to which he yielded with regard to the weakness of the flesh,) not by aid sought from another, but by the celestial operation of his own Spirit.


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